A spectacular photo of stellar fireworks taken by the Hubble space telescope is released today – just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July.
The city of stars is a so-called dwarf galaxy, much smaller than the giant spirals like M31 in Andromeda that are spread right across the universe.
Bursts of star formation are visible right across NGC 4449. There are hot blue-white clusters of massive stars interspersed with countless dusty, red, cosmic nurseries where stars are being born. See the detailed close-up of part of the star cloud.
The galaxy, found in the constellation of Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs, is experiencing a much higher stellar birthrate now than in the past, say Hubble astronomers led by Alessandra Aloisi.
The team that recorded this image in November 2005, using Hubble’s now crippled Advanced Camera for Surveys, say that their target makes an ideal laboratory in which to study what may have occurred as galaxies formed an evolved in the early universe.
The current explosive rate of star formation may have been affected by NGC 4449’s interactions with neighbouring galaxies. Hubble has previously helped capture star formation in a much closer cradle of creation, the Great Orion Nebula. And of course, it also been a witness to the deaths of stars.
Photo: NASA, ESA, A. Aloisi (ESA/STScI) and The Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration.