Resembling curling flames from a campfire, this magnificent
nebula in a neighboring galaxy is giving astronomers new insight
into the fierce birth of stars as it may have more commonly happened
in the early universe. The glowing gas cloud, called Hubble-V, has
a diameter of about 200 light-years. A faint tail of nebulosity
trailing off the top of the image sits opposite a dense cluster
of bright stars at the bottom of the irregularly shaped nebula.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope’s resolution and ultraviolet sensitivity
reveals a dense knot of dozens of ultra-hot stars nestled in the
nebula, each glowing 100,000 times brighter than our Sun. These
youthful 4-million-year-old stars are too distant and crowded together
to be resolved from ground-based telescopes. The small, irregular
host galaxy, called NGC 6822, is one of the Milky Way’s closest
neighbors and is considered prototypical of the earliest fragmentary
galaxies that inhabited the young universe. The galaxy is 1.6 million
light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.

The Hubble-V image data was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary
Camera 2 (WFPC2) by two science teams: C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt
University and collaborators, and Luciana Bianchi of Johns Hopkins
University and Osservatorio Astronomico, Torinese, Italy, and collaborators.
This color image was produced by The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI).
A Hubble image of Hubble-X, another intense star-forming region
in NGC 6822, was released by The Heritage Team in January 2001.