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Cosmic Maternity Ward
NGC 604 in Galaxy M33This nebula, awash in baby stars, was recently photographed by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Called NGC 604 by astronomers, this vast nebula lies in the neighboring spiral galaxy M33, some 2.7 million light years away in the constellation Triangulum. At the heart of the nebula are more than 200 hot stars -- each much more massive than our sun -- that heat the gaseous walls of the nebula making the gas fluoresce. Their light highlights the nebula's three-dimensional shape, "like a lantern in a cavern" as the NASA spin doctors aptly phrase it. This image and other information gathered by the orbiting observatory will help astronomers better understand star formation history as well as the starburst process when a galaxy undergoes a "firestorm" of star formation.

Image courtesy of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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