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News Release Archive:

News Release 674 of 959

July 23, 1998 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1998-25

Nearby Massive Star Cluster Yields Insights into Early Universe

July 23, 1998: The Hubble telescope has taken a "family portrait" of young, ultra-bright stars nested in their embryonic cloud of glowing gases. The celestial maternity ward, called N81, is located 200,000 light-years from Earth in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a small, irregular satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. These are probably the youngest massive stars ever seen in the magellanic cloud.

The nebula offers a unique opportunity for a close-up glimpse of the "firestorm" accompanying the birth of extremely massive stars, each blazing with the brilliance of 300,000 suns. Such galactic fireworks were much more common billions of years ago in the early universe, when most star formation took place.

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Credit: Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Paris Observatory, France), and NASA/ESA