NGC 3738: Hubble sees violent star formation episodes in dwarf galaxies

Oct 29, 2012
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the faint irregular galaxy NGC 3738, a starburst galaxy. The galaxy is in the midst of a violent episode of star formation, during which it is converting reservoirs of hydrogen gas located in the galaxy's center into stars. Hubble spots this gas glowing red around NGC 3738, one of the most distinctive signs of ongoing star formation.

Lying in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear), NGC 3738 is located about 12 million light-years from the sun, and belongs to the Messier 81 group of galaxies. This galaxy—first observed by astronomer William Herschel back in 1789—is a nearby example of a blue compact dwarf, the faintest type of starburst galaxy. Blue compact dwarfs are small compared to large spiral galaxies—NGC 3738 is around 10,000 light-years across, just one tenth of the size of the Milky Way.

This type of galaxy is blue in appearance by virtue of containing large clusters of hot, massive stars, which ionize the surrounding with their intense ultraviolet radiation. They are relatively faint and appear to be irregular in shape. Unlike spirals or , irregular galaxies do not have any distinctive features, such as a nuclear bulge or spiral arms. Rather, they are extremely chaotic in appearance. These galaxies are thought to resemble some of the earliest that formed in the Universe and may provide clues as to how stars appeared shortly after the Big Bang.

This image was created by combining visual and taken with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the . The field of view of the Wide Field Channel is approximately 3.4 by 3.4 arcminutes wide.

Explore further: Smallest speed jump of pulsar caused by billions of superfluid vortices

Related Stories

Hubble observes a dwarf galaxy with a bright nebula

May 10, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has made detailed observations of the dwarf galaxy NGC 2366. While it lacks the elegant spiral arms of many larger galaxies, NGC 2366 is home to a bright, ...

A spiral galaxy in Hydra

Apr 09, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 4980, a spiral galaxy in the southern constellation of Hydra. The shape of NGC 4980 appears slightly deformed, something which is ...

Hubble's view of barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672

Apr 03, 2007

NGC 1672, visible from the Southern Hemisphere, is seen almost face on and shows regions of intense star formation. The greatest concentrations of star formation are found in the so-called starburst regions ...

Compact blue dwarf can't hide from Hubble

Jun 17, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this view of the dwarf galaxy UGC 5497, which looks a bit like salt sprinkled on black velvet in this image.

Hubble captures image of the Arp 274 group of galaxies

Aug 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Arp 274, also known as NGC 5679, is a system of three galaxies that appear to be partially overlapping in the image, although they may be at somewhat different distances. The spiral shapes ...

Recommended for you

ESO image: A study in scarlet

Apr 16, 2014

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

Apr 15, 2014

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...

Pushy neighbors force stellar twins to diverge

Apr 15, 2014

(Phys.org) —Much like an environment influences people, so too do cosmic communities affect even giant dazzling stars: Peering deep into the Milky Way galaxy's center from a high-flying observatory, Cornell ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Meteorites yield clues to Martian early atmosphere

(Phys.org) —Geologists who analyzed 40 meteorites that fell to Earth from Mars unlocked secrets of the Martian atmosphere hidden in the chemical signatures of these ancient rocks. Their study, published ...

Let's put a sailboat on Titan

The large moons orbiting the gas giants in our solar system have been getting increasing attention in recent years. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the only natural satellite known to house a thick atmosphere. ...

Robotics goes micro-scale

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...