The nearest and most opulent stellar factory resides 170,000 light-years away in a turbulent star-birth region called 30 Doradus. Many of the diamond-like blue stars are among the hottest and most massive stars known. The brilliant stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force stellar winds that are etching away at the hydrogen gas cloud in which the stars were born. The nebula is close enough to Earth to give astronomers important clues about the birth and evolution of stars in the universe.
Publication: December 15, 2009