N11B emission nebula is an active star-forming region of some 100 light-years across, located about 160,000 light-years away in the upper right part of our neighbouring galaxy, the Large Megallanic Cloud (LMC) in the constellation of Dorado.
It is a subregion within a larger area of star formation called N11, which spans over 1000 light-years and is the second largest star-forming region in the LMC. It is only surpassed in the size and activity by the Tarantula nebula (or 30 Doradus), located at the opposite side of the LMC.
The region around the hot stars on the left of this image is relatively clear of gas, because the stellar winds and radiation from the stars have pushed the gas away. When this gas collides with and compresses surrounding dense clouds, the clouds can collapse under their own gravity and start to form new stars.
Farther to the right of the image, along the top edge, are several smaller dark clouds, or globules, of interstellar dust. They are seen silhouetted against the glowing interstellar gas. Several of these dark globules are bright-rimmed because they are illuminated and are being evaporated by radiation from neighbouring hot stars. New stars are now being born inside these globules.
N11B has been found to house three successive generations of star formation, so-called sequential star formation – where new star birth is being triggered by previous-generation massive stars. The sequence begins with a cluster of stars outside the top of this image. These stars have carved a large superbubble, leading to the birth of the cluster of blue- and white stars near the left of the image, which are among the most massive stars known anywhere in the Universe. These in turn give birth to new baby stars inside the dark globules.
This image was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in 1999.
Image Credit: NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/HEIC