NGC 6946, a face-on intermediate spiral galaxy 25.2 million light years away, has a well-earned nickname: the Fireworks Galaxy. Over the past 50 years, 10 supernovae have been observed going off in the galaxy (also known as Caldwell 12) compared to the Milky Way’s average of one or two per century. NGC 6946 is classified as an active starburst galaxy with an exceptional rate of star formation. First observed by William Herschel in 1798, the Fireworks Galaxy can be found along the border of the constellations of Cepheus and Cygnus.
An international team led by a researcher from Hiroshima University has succeeded in revealing the detailed structure of a massive ionised gas outflow streaming from the starburst galaxy NGC 6240, 350 million light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. The team used the Suprime-Cam mounted on the 8.2-metre Subaru Telescope on Maunakea in Hawaii.
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.