The “Star Birth” Galaxy

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Dwarf galaxy NGC 4214, pictured here in an image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s newest camera, dominated by a huge glowing cloud of hydrogen gas in which new stars are being born displays a stunning range of stars from hot, young stellar regions to old clusters with red supergiants.


A heart-shaped hollow — possibly galaxy NGC 4214’s most eye-catching feature, seen at the center of the image, harbors a large cluster of massive, young stars ranging in temperature from 10,000 to 50,000 degrees Celsius. Their strong stellar winds are responsible for the creation of this bubble.

The intricate patterns of glowing ionised hydrogen gas, cavities blown clear of gas by stellar wind, and bright stellar clusters of NGC 4214 can be seen in this optical and near-infrared image, taken using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Located around 10 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs), the galaxy's relative close proximity to us, combined with the wide variety of evolutionary stages among the stars, makes it an ideal laboratory to research what triggers star formation and evolution.

NGC 4214 contains a large amount of gas, some of which can be seen glowing red in the image, providing abundant material for star formation. The area with the most hydrogen gas, and consequently, the youngest clusters of stars (around two million years old), lies in the upper part of this Hubble image. Like most of the features in the image, this area is visible due to ionisation of the surrounding gas by the ultraviolet light of a young cluster of stars within.

Observations of this dwarf galaxy have also revealed clusters of much older red supergiant stars at a late stage in their evolution. Additional older stars can be seen dotted all across the galaxy. While these are dominant in infrared emission they can only be seen shining faintly in this visible-light image.

The Daily Galaxy via ESA/Hubble Information Center

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Image Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration.

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