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Ethereal Orange Glow Radiates From Heart of Stellar Forge


Galaxy NGC 1792 captured by NASA / ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Photo credit: ESA / Hubble & NASA, J. Lee, Credit: Leo Shatz

An orange glow emanates from the center of NGC 1792, the heart of this star forge. Captured by the NASA/ ESA Hubble Space TelescopeThis intimate view of NGC 1792 gives us a glimpse of this galactic powerhouse. The huge streaks of tell-tale blue throughout the galaxy indicate areas that are full of young, hot stars, and in the shades of orange seen closer to the center are the older, cooler stars.

NGC 1792 is located in the constellation Columba (The Dove) and is both a spiral galaxy and a starburst galaxy. Stars form at comparatively exorbitant rates within starburst galaxies. The speed of star formation can be more than ten times faster in a starburst galaxy than in the Milky Way. When galaxies like NGC 1792 have a large reservoir, these short-lived starburst phases can be triggered by galactic events like fusions and tidal interactions.

Columba Constellation Chart

IAU Columba diagram. Photo credit: IAU and Sky & Telescope Magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) CC BY 3.0

One might think that these stardust galaxies would easily use up all of their gas in our great forming event. However, supernova explosions and intense stellar winds generated in these powerful star exchanges can inject energy into the gas and dissipate it. This will stop star formation before the galaxy can be completely stripped of all of its fuel. Scientists are actively working to understand this complex interplay between the dynamics that drive and extinguish these violent bursts of star formation.

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