NGC 604 is home to hundreds of hot, massive stars • Earth.com

NGC 604 is home to hundreds of hot, massive stars

Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features the star-forming region NGC 604, which is located 2.73 million light-years away from Earth in the Triangulum Galaxy (M33). The image was captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

“Sheltered among NGC 604’s dusty envelopes of gas are more than 200 of the hottest, most massive kinds of stars, all in the early stages of their lives,” said ESA.

“These types of stars are known as B-types and O-types, the latter of which can be more than 100 times the mass of our own Sun. It’s quite rare to find this concentration of them in the nearby Universe. In fact, there’s no similar region within our own Milky Way galaxy.”

“This concentration of massive stars, combined with its relatively close distance, means NGC 604 gives astronomers an opportunity to study these objects at a fascinating time early in their life.”

NGC 604 is one of the largest known regions of ionized hydrogen, also known as an H II region. This nebula is significantly larger than the Orion Nebula, which is one of the most well-known H II regions in our own Milky Way galaxy

NGC 604 spans about 1,500 light-years across, making it one of the largest H II regions in the Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, and about 54 other smaller galaxies. 

Within NGC 604, there are hundreds of young, hot, massive stars. These stars have ionized the surrounding gas, causing it to glow and creating the nebula. The region is a prime example of a starburst phenomenon, where stars form at a much higher rate than in typical galactic conditions.

By studying regions like NGC 604, astronomers can gain insights into the complex interactions between stars and the interstellar medium, as well as the conditions that lead to the birth of stars. This, in turn, helps in understanding the evolution of galaxies and the universe as a whole.

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope

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