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Heritage Spotlight: Previous Heritage Team Member
Jayanne English

University of Manitoba

Jayanne English
Jayanne English

The Hubble Heritage team wanted to expose the public to all sorts of astronomical creatures in the cosmos, not just planetary nebulae and galaxies. So each team member spent some time thinking about what kinds of other things would be fun to image. Although I study strange, interacting galaxies, I voiced my support for imaging compact H III regions in the Magellanic Clouds. H II regions are large clouds of gas heated by young stars until they glow like neon lights; an example in our Galaxy is the Orion Nebula. And the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds (SMC and LMC) are small galaxies that are so nearby that they are interacting with our own Milky Way.

When I was an undergraduate I had done a summer research project which involved making a slew of images of pretty H II regions in the SMC and I even have a picture of one (DEM S 148/149) in a locket given to me by my project supervisor. Yet an HST image that captured both the whole shape and the delicate detail of an H II nebula was missing from our collection of Heritage goodies. And I calculated that the H II regions in the Magellanic Clouds would fit nicely within the field of view the WFPC2 and were not so distant from us that their texture and wispy features would be a blur.

Talking about blurry vision, after rhapsodizing to the Heritage team the merits of imaging these H II regions, the picture of what happened next gets fuzzy. Of course I was in contact with my colleagues who study these objects -- chatting to them at conferences, and even within the halls of the Space Telescope Science Institute itself, about the relevance of the energy output from these H II regions to my research on the formation of structure in galaxies. Also one of my jobs as Hubble Heritage Team coordinator was to liase with scientists so that there could be a flow of information between research astronomers and the Heritage team and hence the public. So I think You-Hua Chu and Sally Oey were both aware that I wanted to do LMC/SMC H II regions as a Heritage project. Sally had studied DEM L 106 some years previously as part of her Ph.D. thesis, and You-Hua is an absolute guru on LMC superbubbles. Two perfect people with whom to liase! The next thing I remember was Sally, who had an office down the hall from me, saying "Come see what is on my monitor. It is data that You-Hua collected". I thought that the single-filter image that she was showing me was perfect as an example of a compact H II region. However, to make a colour image we need images taken through several different filters. So I advocated to the Heritage team that we either supplement the existing data with more exposures or do a similar object.

My notes for the weekly Heritage meetings show that we settled on DEM L106 as the H II region of choice and eventually Sally was asked to make the calculations necessary for pointing the telescope and scheduling the observations. Unfortunately Sally and the team did not get much help from me after this stage of the project. I had left the Heritage team before the data were collected, to become an assistant professor in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba, and regretfully did not get to participate in the production of this image. But this image release has reminded me to put on my thinking cap and see if there are any more fanciful creatures of the cosmos that I should cheerily promote to the Hubble Heritage team as fodder for their imagemaking craftshop.