The Hubble Space Telescope is working with the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array radio observatory to survey nearby galactic environments to learn more about how they influence the formation of stars and star clusters. One of the galaxies imaged by Hubble for the PHANGS-ALMA survey, the Great Barred Spiral in the constellation Fornax is a prime example, showing off hundreds of infant stars and enormous regions ablaze in blue and orange swirls of gas and dust that will provide the raw material for future generations. Known as NGC 1365, the galaxy is located some 60 million light years from Earth.
Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To try and understand why, an international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253 — one of the nearest starburst galaxies.
The early universe was a chaotic mess of gas and matter that only began to coalesce into distinct galaxies hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang. It would take several billion more years for such galaxies to assemble into massive galaxy clusters — or so scientists had thought. Now astronomers have detected a massive, sprawling, churning galaxy cluster that formed only 3.8 billion years after the Big Bang, some 10 billion light years from Earth.