Image of the Day: The Weirdness of Dwarf Galaxies

Star Lab

The dwarf galaxy NGC 4214 is afire with young stars and gas clouds. Located around 10 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs), the galaxy's close proximity, combined with the wide variety of evolutionary stages among the stars, make it an ideal laboratory to research the triggers of star formation and evolution. This color image was taken using the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 in December 2009.

Another dwarf galaxy located about 30 million light years from Earth, has provided astronomers with a detailed new look at how galaxy and black hole formation may have occured in the early Universe.


The image below shows optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope in red, green and blue, X-ray data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory in purple, and radio data from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array in yellow.

A compact X-ray source at the center of the galaxy coincides with a radio source, giving evidence for an actively growing supermassive black hole with a mass of about one million times that of the Sun.

Stars are forming in Henize 2-10 at a prodigious rate, giving the star clusters in this galaxy their blue appearance. This combination of a burst of star formation and a massive black hole is analogous to conditions in the early Universe. Since Henize 2-10 does not contain a significant bulge of stars in its center, these results show that supermassive black hole growth may precede the growth of bulges in galaxies. This differs from the relatively nearby Universe where the growth of galaxy bulges and supermassive black holes appears to occur in parallel.

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