Resembling a delicate rose floating in space, the
nebula N11A is seen in a new light in a true-colour image taken by the
NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Fierce radiation from massive stars
embedded at the centre of N11A illuminates the surrounding gas with a
soft fluorescent glow.

N11A lies within a spectacular star-forming region in the Large
Magellanic Cloud, a small nearby companion galaxy to our own Milky Way
Galaxy, visible from the Southern Hemisphere. This nebula is
particularly interesting for astronomers since it is the smallest and
most compact nebula in that region and represents the most recent
massive star formation event there.

The excellent imaging power of Hubble has enabled astronomers to see
this nebula in more detail and to study the structure of the hot gas
envelope as well as the stars embedded in its centre. Shocks and strong
stellar winds from the recently born, massive stars in the bright core
of N11A have scooped out a cavity in the gas and dust. The fierce
radiation causes the surrounding gas to fluoresce in a way similar to a
neon light.

Hubble·s image provides a much clearer picture of the nebula, making it
possible for the first time to identify the stars that actually make it
glow. Such information is essential for a better understanding of the
formation of massive stars, that is, stars more than 10 times as heavy
as our Sun. ·We need to study the properties of star-forming regions in
our neighbouring galaxies to understand how stars are formed in the
distant, young Universe,· explains Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri who led the
team studying these Hubble observations.

Image facts
N11A is located in the constellation of Dorado (the Goldfish). This
true-colour Hubble image is composed of three narrow-band filter images
obtained with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on 17 May 2000. The
three images were obtained using a 1040 second exposure through a red
filter (ionised hydrogen, H-alpha), a 1200 second exposure through a
green filter (ionised oxygen), and a 1040 second exposure through a blue
filter (ionised hydrogen, H-beta). N11A is about 10 arc-seconds in size,
corresponding to about 8 light-years at the distance of the Large
Magellanic Cloud (168,000 light-years).

Credit: European Space Agency & Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Observatoire
de Paris, France)

Notes for editors

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation
between ESA and NASA.

The scientists involved in these observations are M. Heydari-Malayeri
(Observatoire de Paris, France), V. Charmandaris (Cornell University,
U.S.A.), L. Deharveng (Observatoire de Marseille, France), M.R. Rosa
(ST-ECF, Germany), D. Schaerer (Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees, France), and
H. Zinnecker (Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam, Germany).


Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri
Observatoire de Paris, France
Phone: +33-1-40-51-20-76

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre, Garching, Germany
Phone: +49-89-3200-6306 (089 within Germany)
Cellular (24 hr): +49-173-3872-621 (0173 within Germany)