Michael Braukus Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Embargoed Until (Phone: 202/453-1549) p.m.

EDT, May 29, 1991 Dolores Beasley Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. (Phone: 301/286-2806) RELEASE: 91-84


IMAGES REVEAL INTENSE, HOT STARS IN LARGE MAGELLANIC CLOUD One of the most exciting discoveries of NASA's Astro-1 mission emerged recently from images obtained by the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT). During detailed analysis earlier this month, UIT team members identified hundreds of newly-found young, hot, energetic stars among the thousands of stars in the vast, central region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a neighboring galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy. It is likely that many of the newly-discovered stars were formed at about the same time as the star which exploded as Supernova 1987A. The implication is that several could one day become supernovae, as well. Using ground-based instruments, astronomers can observe approximately 10,000 stars in the same area, but it is difficult to determine which are the supernova candidates because the red (calm) stars dominate the LMC, hiding the energetic, ultraviolet-emitting, blue stars from view. Now, with UIT, scientists are able to identify these young, hot stars in this extremely crowded field and can isolate the

most energetic. UIT Principal Investigator Ted Stecher of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., compared this discovery to looking into a crowd of 1,000 people and being able to pick out the 10 who are Nobel Prize winners. By isolating these stars, UIT is blazing the trail for detailed follow-up studies using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope launched in April 1990, the International Ultraviolet Explorer launched in January 1978 and the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer to be launched in December 1991. - more -2The LMC is located 169,000 light years from Earth, is visible from the Earth's southern hemisphere and contains about 15 billion stars. The region UIT explored centered on the young star cluster 30 Doradus. These findings were presented today at a press conference associated with the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash. UIT was designed and built at Goddard and flew along with three other instruments aboard Space Shuttle Columbia's STS-35 Astro-1 mission Dec. 2-11, 1990. The Astro-1 mission was managed by Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications, Washington, D.C. -endNOTE TO MEDIA: Photographs of the ultraviolet image of the LMC and two other images taken by the UIT are available to media representatives at the American Astronomical Society newsroom or by calling NASA Headquarters (202) 453-8373 or Goddard Space Flight Center, (301) 286-8957. The photographs also will be telecast on NASA Select TV at 1 p.m. EDT on May 29. NASA Select TV is available on Satcom F-2R, Transponder 13, located at 72 degrees west longitude; frequency 3960.0 MHz, audio 6.8 MHz.