N44. This bright, complex nebulae in the LMC is well-studied, but this image, showing its distribution of ionized hydrogen (among other things), offers new puzzles: Annie Laval of the Marseille Observatory notes that the gas patterns may speak of internal movements in dust clouds or of several distinct gas layers.

N44 UPCLOSE. The central region of this star system seen here is marked by a large, ring-shaped collection of luminous stars that emit x-rays. Astronomers interpret these x-ray emissions as evidence that heavy stars in the area have gone supernova in the last few million years.

N119. This large nebula, spanning 400 by 600 light years, lies or the northern side of the LMC's stellar bar, near the center of rotation of neutral hydrogen in the galaxy. The high number of stars in the lower half of the image result from the neighboring stellar bar.

NGC 1916. This compact star cluster--housing a variety of star colors--appears in the bottom and center of N119, the only spiral nebula in the LMC. Researchers guess that N119 has an odd shape and peculiar gas flow because of a collision between two interstellar clouds.

Images: European Southern Observatory

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