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.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals a delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — that sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90.