What’s small, irregularly shaped and recently underwent a spurt of star formation? The dwarf galaxy NGC 1705, an oddball starburst galaxy about 17 million light years from Earth. Such irregular dwarf galaxies tend to contain little raw material beyond hydrogen and helium and are thought to be similar to the first galaxies forming in the wake of the Big Bang. This Hubble Space Telescope image was collected in a project to better understand the interplay between stars, clusters and ionised gas in nearby star-forming galaxies. Looking at NGC 1705 in H-alpha light using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, researchers were able to discern thousands of emission nebulae caused by ultraviolet light from hot, young stars making surrounding gas clouds glow. Hubble studied NGC 1705 in 1999 using an older camera, but the Wide Field Camera 3 provides a much more detailed view.
While NGC 278 may look serene, it is anything but. The galaxy is currently undergoing an immense burst of star formation as revealed in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. However, NGC 278’s star formation is somewhat unusual: why is it only taking place within an inner ring some 6,500 light-years across and not extend to the galaxy’s outer edges?
Located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, Eta Carinae outshines our Sun by 5 million times. The binary system consists of two massive stars in a tight 5.5-year orbit, shrouded in an expanding veil of gas and dust from an enormous eruption seen in the 1840s. Now a study using archival data from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes has found five similar objects in other galaxies for the first time.
Peering deep into the early universe, this picturesque parallel field observation from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals thousands of colourful galaxies swimming in the inky blackness of space in the constellation Sculptor. This spectacular skyscape was captured during the study of the giant galaxy cluster Abell 2744, otherwise known as Pandora’s Box.