Because the stars of the SMC are deficient in heavier elements, they too evolve much like the universe's earliest stars, which were made almost exclusively of primordial elements hydrogen and helium that were cooked up in the big bang. In fact, the SMC is a unique laboratory for studying star formation in the early universe since it is the closest and best seen galaxy containing so-called 'metal-poor' first and second generation type stars. Hubble's exquisite resolution allows astronomers to pinpoint 50 separate stars tightly packed in the nebula's core within a 10 light-year diameter - slightly more than twice the distance between earth and the nearest star to our sun. The closest pair of stars is only 1/3 of a light-year apart.
Before the Hubble observations, N81 was simply dubbed 'The Blob' because its features were indistinguishable in ground-based telescopes.
'For the sake of persons of ... different types, scientific truth should be presented in different forms, and should be regarded as equally scientific, whether it appears in the robust form and the vivid coloring of a physical illustration, or in the tenuity and paleness of a symbolic expression.'
James Clerk Maxwell