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Hubble Captures Stellar Fireworks Display in a Nearby Galaxy

Jun 29, 2016 09:02 AM EDT
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NASA and ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured stunning image of a nearby dwarf galaxy with a shape resembling a skyrocket.

The dwarf galaxy named LEDA 36252, or also known as Kiso 5639, is a known as a tadpole galaxy due to its bright compact head and elongated tails. Unlike spiral and elliptical galaxies, which are the most common type of galaxy in the universe, tadpole galaxies are unusual and rare in the local universe. Astronomers believe that in a sample of 10,000 galaxies within the local universe, only 20 are tadpole galaxies.

Astronomers consider tadpole galaxies as living fossils from the early Universe and from the time when these galaxies formed. It is an ideal cosmic laboratory for astronomers to study the accretion of cosmic gas, starburst activity, and the formation of globular star clusters.

However, a study published in The Astrophysical Journal describing LEDA 36252 revealed some unexpected results.

Using the Wield Field Camera 3 (WFC3) of the NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescopes, astronomers were able to detect mass of young stars with a total mass equivalent to some 10 000 Suns in the head of LEDA 36252. These stars appeared to grouped in large clusters and mainly consist of hydrogen and helium. Astronomers believe that the accretion of primordial gas from its surrounding triggered the burst of star formation in the galaxy.

Astronomers have also discovered at least four distinct star-forming regions in the elongated tail of the detected tadpole galaxy. These regions are older than what the astronomers have seen in the head.

According to a press release, the astronomers also noted signs of strong stellar winds and supernova explosions from the observations. Strong stellar winds and supernova explosions have blasted holes through LEDA 36252's head and created multiple cavities, sending wispy filaments comprising gas and some stars away from the main body of the galaxy.

In order to create the beautifully detailed image of LEDA 36252, WFC3 observations needed to comprise wide range of spectrum including ultraviolet, optical, H-alpha, and infrared emission painted together.

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