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Hubble sees a ‘nuclear ring’ of star formation in galactic merger

10 October 2016 Astronomy Now

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?

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Hubble peers into the maelstrom

5 September 2016 Astronomy Now

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows a stellar nursery known as N159 — a maelstrom of glowing gas and dark dust within one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). N159 is located over 160,000 light-years away. It resides just south of the Tarantula Nebula, another massive star-forming complex within the LMC.

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Hubble reveals a cosmic trick of the eye

6 April 2016 Astronomy Now

While truly massive stars go out in a blaze of glory, intermediate-mass stars — those between roughly one and eight times the mass of the Sun — are somewhat quieter. Such stars eventually form cosmic objects known as planetary nebulae, so named because of their vague resemblance to planets when seen through early, low-resolution telescopes.

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Dying star offers glimpse of our Sun’s future

7 March 2016 Astronomy Now

This planetary nebula is known as Kohoutek 4-55 (or K 4-55). It is one of a series of planetary nebulae that were named after their discoverer, Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutek. Such a nebula is formed from material in the outer layers of a red giant star that are expelled into interstellar space when the star is in the late stages of its life.

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Hubble sees two galaxies become one

28 December 2015 Astronomy Now

This image, taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the galaxy NGC 6052, located around 230 million light-years away in the constellation of Hercules. It is a “new” galaxy in the process of forming, the result of a merger between two separate galaxies that were gradually drawn together by gravity.

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Hubble views the Little Gem Nebula

8 August 2015 Astronomy Now

This colourful bubble is a planetary nebula called NGC 6818, also known as the Little Gem Nebula, discovered by William Herschel in 1787. It is located in the constellation of Sagittarius, roughly 6,000 light-years away from us. The rich glow of the cloud is just over half a light-year across.