(via APOD: 2012 June 12 - Thackerays Globules)
IC 2944 is a stellar nursery in Centaurus, about 5900 light-years away. That’s the background for these “dark globules” discovered by A.D. Thackeray in 1950 in South Africa. They’re gas and dust, probably the remains of a much larger cloud of interstellar medium which gave rise this area becoming a stellar nursery. The last few stars that can form may already be collapsing into existence in these globules.
As stars form with a gas and dust cloud, they begin to exert pressure on the remaining matter as the hot, young stars burn intensely. Stellar winds and ultraviolet radiation push outward and carve out empty regions around the new stars. All of this pressure, though, also creates new densities in the matter which is left, creating conditions ripe for another generation of stars to be born. This process continues until the matter has all been pulled into star formation or blown away by the stars.
Credit & Copyright: T. Rector (U. Alaska Anchorage), & N.S. van der Bliek (NOAO/AURA/NSF)