Nav: Home

Hubble observes a dwarf galaxy with a bright nebula

May 10, 2012

The starry mist streaking across this image obtained by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the central part of the dwarf galaxy known as NGC 2366. The most obvious feature in this galaxy is a large nebula visible in the upper-right part of the image, an object listed just a few entries prior in the New General Catalogue as NGC 2363.

A nearby yellowish swirl is not in fact part of the nebula. It is a spiral galaxy much further away, whose light is shining right through NGC 2366. This is possible because galaxies are not solid objects. While we see the stars because they shine brightly, galaxies are overwhelmingly made up of the empty space between them. Hubble's high-resolution image illustrates this perfectly: the stars are small points of light surrounded by the darkness of space.

The splendid interconnected objects of NGC 2366 and NGC 2363 are located about 10 million light-years away in the constellation of Camelopardalis (the Giraffe). As a dwarf galaxy, NGC 2366's size is in the same ballpark as the two main satellite galaxies of our Milky Way, named the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Like the Magellanic clouds, NGC 2366's lack of well-defined structure leads astronomers to further classify it as an irregular galaxy.

Although NGC 2366 might be small by the standards of galaxies, many of its stars are not, and the galaxy is home to numerous gigantic blue stars. The blue dots scattered throughout the galaxy speak to the burst of star formation that the galaxy has undergone in recent cosmic time. A new generation of these stellar titans has lit up the nebula NGC 2363.

In gas-rich star-forming regions, the ultraviolet radiation from young, big, blue stars excites the hydrogen gas, making it glow. NGC 2363, as well as other, smaller patches seen throughout Hubble's image, serve as the latest formation sites for stellar giants.

Imaged through green and infrared filters, these nebulae take on a blueish tinge in this image, though the actual colour is a shade of red.

This image was produced from two adjacent fields observed by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The field of view is approximately 5.5 arcminutes across, which is equivalent to a little over a fifth of the diameter of the full Moon. Although this is comparatively large by the standard of Hubble's images, NGC 2366 is much too faint to observe with the naked eye.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Image credit: NASA & ESA


Images of Hubble:


Oli Usher
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-89-3200-6855

ESA/Hubble Information Centre

Related Star Formation Articles:

Star's birth may have triggered another star birth, astronomers say
Radio images give new evidence that a jet of material from one young star may have triggered the gas collapse that started another young star.
Organic compound found in early stages of star formation
Scientists seeking to understand the origins of life have found a new organic compound in the material from which a star like the Sun is forming.
Speeding star gives new clues to breakup of multi-star system
Three stars have been discovered that now hold the record as the youngest-known examples of a super-fast star category.
Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
Pushing the limits of the largest single-aperture millimeter telescope in the world, and coupling it with gravitational lensing, University of Massachusetts Amherst astronomer Alexandra Pope and colleagues report that they have detected a surprising rate of star formation, four times higher than previously detected, in a dust-obscured galaxy behind a Frontier Fields cluster.
Hubble discovery of runaway star yields clues to breakup of multiple-star system
A gravitational tussle, ended with a multi-star system breaking apart and at least three stars being ejected in different directions.
Cosmic environments and their influence in star formation
In a joint collaboration between the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Riverside, astronomers have performed an extensive study of the properties of galaxies within filaments formed at different times during the age of the universe.
Investigating star formation is UMass Amherst researcher's mission
University of Massachusetts Amherst astrophysicist Stella Offner, who has received a five-year, $429,000 faculty early career development (CAREER) grant from National Science Foundation (NSF), plans to use it not only to study how stars are born, but also to develop interactive online astronomy 'tours' to enhance K-12 science education in local schools.
Black-hole-powered jets forge fuel for star formation
Astronomers using ALMA have discovered a surprising connection between a supermassive black hole and the galaxy where it resides.
Rings around young star suggest planet formation in progress
Rice University astronomers and their international colleagues have for the first time mapped gases in three dark rings around a distant star with the powerful ALMA radio telescope.
New evidence on the formation of the solar system
International research involving a Monash University scientist is using new computer models and evidence from meteorites to show that a low-mass supernova triggered the formation of our solar system.

Related Star Formation Reading:

Star Formation (World Scientific Series in Astrophysics)
by Mark R Krumholz (Author)

This book provides a modern introduction to the study of star formation, at a level suitable for graduate students or advanced undergraduates in astrophysics. The first third of the book provides a review of the observational phenomenology and then the basic physical processes that are important for star formation. The remainder then discusses the major observational results and theoretical models for star formation on scales from galactic down to planetary. The book includes recommendations for complementary reading from the research literature, as well as five problem sets with solutions. View Details

An Introduction to Star Formation
by Derek Ward-Thompson (Author), Anthony P. Whitworth (Author)

Guiding the reader through all the stages that lead to the formation of a star such as our Sun, this advanced textbook provides students with a complete overview of star formation. It examines the underlying physical processes that govern the evolution from a molecular cloud core to a main-sequence star, and focuses on the formation of solar-mass stars. Each chapter combines theory and observation, helping readers to connect with and understand the theory behind star formation. Beginning with an explanation of the interstellar medium and molecular clouds as sites of star formation, subsequent... View Details

Accretion Processes in Star Formation (Cambridge Astrophysics)
by Lee Hartmann (Author)

Our understanding of the formation of stars and planetary systems has changed greatly since the first edition of this book was published. This new edition has been thoroughly updated, and now includes material on molecular clouds, binaries, star clusters and the stellar initial mass function (IMF), disk evolution and planet formation. This book provides a comprehensive picture of the formation of stars and planetary systems, from their beginnings in cold clouds of molecular gas to their emergence as new suns with planet-forming disks. At each stage gravity induces an inward accretion of mass,... View Details

Star Formation in Galaxy Evolution: Connecting Numerical Models to Reality: Saas-Fee Advanced Course 43. Swiss Society for Astrophysics and Astronomy
by Nickolay Y. Gnedin (Author), Yves Revaz (Editor), Pascale Jablonka (Editor), Romain Teyssier (Editor), Lucio Mayer (Editor), Simon C. O. Glover (Editor), Ralf S. Klessen (Editor), Volker Springel (Editor)

This book contains the elaborated and updated versions of the 24 lectures given at the 43rd Saas-Fee Advanced Course. Written by four eminent scientists in the field, the book reviews the physical processes related to star formation, starting from cosmological down to galactic scales. It presents a detailed description of the interstellar medium and its link with the star formation. And it describes the main numerical computational techniques designed to solve the equations governing self-gravitating fluids used for modelling of galactic and extra-galactic systems. This book provides a... View Details

The Labyrinth of Star Formation (Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings)
by Dimitris Stamatellos (Editor), Simon Goodwin (Editor), Derek Ward-Thompson (Editor)

This volume contains the proceedings from the conference "The Labyrinth of Star Formation" that was held in Crete, Greece, in June 2012, to honour the contributions to the study of star formation made by Professor Anthony Whitworth of Cardiff University.

The book covers many aspects of theoretical and observational star formation: low-mass star formation; young circumstellar discs; computational methods; triggered star formation; the stellar initial mass function; high-mass star formation and stellar clusters. Each section starts with a review paper, followed by papers discussing... View Details

Principles of Star Formation (Astronomy and Astrophysics Library)
by Peter Bodenheimer (Author)

Understanding star formation is one of the key fields in present-day astrophysics. This book treats a wide variety of the physical processes involved, as well as the main observational discoveries, with key points being discussed in detail. The current star formation in our galaxy is emphasized, because the most detailed observations are available for this case. The book presents a comparison of the various scenarios for star formation, discusses the basic physics underlying each one, and follows in detail the history of a star from its initial state in the interstellar gas to its becoming... View Details

The Formation of Stars
by Steven W. Stahler (Author), Francesco Palla (Author), Francesco Palla (Author)

This book is a comprehensive treatment of star formation, one of the most active fields of modern astronomy. The reader is guided through the subject in a logically compelling manner. Starting from a general description of stars and interstellar clouds, the authors delineate the earliest phases of stellar evolution. They discuss formation activity not only in the Milky Way, but also in other galaxies, both now and in the remote past. Theory and observation are thoroughly integrated, with the aid of numerous figures and images. In summary, this volume is an invaluable resource, both as a text... View Details

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Star Formation
by Thomas P. Greene (Author), NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) (Creator)

The 6.5-m aperture James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be a powerful tool for studying and advancing numerous areas of astrophysics. Its Fine Guidance Sensor, Near-Infrared Camera, Near-Infrared Spectrograph, and Mid-Infrared Instrument will be capable of making very sensitive, high angular resolution imaging and spectroscopic observations spanning 0.7 - 28 ?m wavelength. These capabilities are very well suited for probing the conditions of star formation in the distant and local Universe. Indeed, JWST has been designed to detect first light objects as well as to study the fine details of... View Details

The Tai Chi in Star Formation (IOP Concise Physics)
by Morgan & Claypool Publishers

Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art developed based on the laws of nature, emphaszses how 'to conquer the unyielding with the yielding.' The recent observation of star formation shows that stars result from the interaction between gravity, turbulence and magnetic fields. This interaction again follows the natural rules that inspired Tai Chi. For example, if self-gravity is the force that dominates, the molecular cloud will collapse isotropically, which compresses magnetic field lines. The density of the yielding field lines increases until magnetic pressure reaches the critical value to... View Details

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results (Volume 1)
by Stephen Guise (Author)

A Worldwide Bestseller in 17 Languages!
UPDATED: Includes the best habit tracking apps of 2017.
                 Lasting Change For Early Quitters, Burnouts, The Unmotivated, And Everyone Else Too
When I decided to start exercising consistently 10 years ago, this is what actually happened:I tried "getting motivated." It worked sometimes. I tried setting audacious big goals. I almost always failed them.I tried to make changes last. They didn't.
Like most people who try to change and fail, I assumed that I was the problem.
Then... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."