Hubble views spiral galaxy as part of star formation survey
The study of galaxies like barred spiral NGC 1365 is helping a team of astronomers learn more about the formation of stars and star clusters.
This is the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1365, located in the constellation Fornax about 60 million lightyears from Earth.
The galaxy being 60 million lightyears away means its light takes 60 million years to reach us, and that we're observing the galaxy as a snapshot of cosmological history.
The blue spots seen in the image are scorching hot newborn stars, while the orange swirls are regions filled with cold cosmic dust and gas, primed for future star formation to occur.
In this sense the image reveals two key stages of star formation: the presence of dust and gas that will coalesce and collapse, eventually forming new stars just like those glowing bright blue on the galactic fringes.
Astronomers are studying the diversity of galaxy environments in the nearby Universe in an attempt to understand more about the conditions that influence the formation of stars and star clusters.
The PHANGS survey is expected to image over 100,000 gas clouds and star-forming regions beyond the Milky Way, potentially clarifying the links between those cold gas clouds, the energetic process of star formation, and where it all fits into how galaxies develop over time.
Observatories Hubble Space Telescope, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Release date 5 October 2020
Image credit ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team / Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)
Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.