|How and why are all these stars forming?
Found among the Small Magellanic Cloud's (SMC's) clusters and nebulae
NGC 346 is
a star forming region about 200 light-years across,
pictured above by the Hubble Space Telescope.
galaxy of the Milky Way, the Small Magellanic Cloud
is a wonder of the southern sky, a mere
210,000 light-years distant in the constellation of the Toucan
Exploring NGC 346,
astronomers have identified
a population of embryonic stars
the dark, intersecting dust lanes visible here on the right.
Still collapsing within their natal clouds,
the stellar infants' light is reddened by
the intervening dust.
A small, irregular galaxy, the SMC itself
represents a type of galaxy more common in the
But these small galaxies are
thought to be a building blocks
for the larger galaxies present today.
Within the SMC, stellar nurseries like
NGC 346 are also thought
to be similar to those found in the
A. Nota (ESA/STScI) et al.,