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Star-Forming Region of Galaxy NGC 6822


Giant gas clouds in NGC 6822 have held a special attraction for astronomers since their discovery by the visual observer E. E. Barnard in 1881. Edwin P. Hubble, after whom the HST is named, used the then-new 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in 1925 to make the first detailed photographic investigation of NGC 6822. The Hubble image reveals details too fine to be resolved from telescopes on the ground.



Stars form in groups from enormous clouds of gas and dust called giant molecular clouds. Once star formation begins in a molecular cloud, its rate accelerates until the process is stopped when one or more very massive hot stars are formed. At that point the clouds change from near darkness into the brightly glowing objects such as seen in Hubble-X. It is the intense ultraviolet radiation from the massive stars that causes the residual gas to glow. Radiation and gas outflows, called stellar winds, then cause the gas to disperse, bringing further star formation to an abrupt end.


Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Acknowledgment: C. R. O'Dell (Vanderbilt University)

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