By Betsy Mason
November 5, 2009 12:05 pm
The Hubble Space Telescope’s new camera is returning incredibly detailed, stunning images of space. This close-up view of an area near the core of the iconic Southern Pinwheel galaxy, or M83, shows very rapid star birth.
The image to the right of the entire galaxy, taken from the ground by the European Southern Observatory’s 2.2-meter telescope at La Silla, Chile, shows the location of the image above. Hubble’s detailed view reveals that the spiral arms of the galaxy, about 15 million light-years from Earth, are lousy with clusters of infant stars, only a few million years old. The clusters show up as red because of the hydrogen gas they emit, and they have blown holes in the brownish dust tracks of the arms.
The image also reveals around 60 supernova remnants, around five times more than had previously been seen. the different wavelengths of light captured by Hubble’s camera, from ultraviolet to near-infrared, gives scientists a look at stars in all stages of formation, which will help them understand the evolution of the Pinwheel galaxy, and give them insight into galaxy formation in general.
Images: 1) NASA, ESA, STScI/AURA. High-Def Version. 2) ESO.