Image: Hubble catches starbursts in a barred spiral galaxy

September 18, 2017, NASA
Credit: NASA/ESA

This Hubble Space Telescope picture shows NGC 5398, a barred spiral galaxy located about 55 million light-years away.

The galaxy is famous for containing an especially extensive HII region, a large cloud composed of ionized hydrogen (or HII, pronounced "H-two," with H being the chemical symbol for hydrogen and the "II" indicating that the atoms have lost an electron to become ionized). NGC 5398's cloud is named Tol 89 and sits at the lower left end of the galaxy's central "bar" of stars, a structure that cuts through the and funnels material inwards to maintain the star formation occurring there.

Tol 86 is conspicuous in being the only large massive star-forming complex in the entire galaxy, with an extension of roughly 5,000 times; it contains at least seven young and massive star clusters. The two brightest clumps within Tol 89, which astronomers have named simply "A" and "B" appear to have undergone two bursts of star-forming activity—"starbursts"—roughly 4 million and less than 3 million years ago respectively.

Tol 89-A is thought to contain a number of particularly bright and known as Wolf-Rayet stars, which are known for their high temperatures and extreme stellar winds.

Explore further: Hubble's hidden galaxy

Related Stories

Hubble's hidden galaxy

July 7, 2017

IC 342 is a challenging cosmic target. Although it is bright, the galaxy sits near the equator of the Milky Way's galactic disk, where the sky is thick with glowing cosmic gas, bright stars, and dark, obscuring dust.

Hubble scopes out a galaxy of stellar birth

June 26, 2017

This image displays a galaxy known as ESO 486-21 (with several other background galaxies and foreground stars visible in the field as well). ESO 486-21 is a spiral galaxy—albeit with a somewhat irregular and ill-defined ...

The outer galaxy

July 31, 2017

The sun is located inside one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy, roughly two-thirds of the way from the galactic center to the outer regions. Because we are inside the galaxy, obscuration by dust and the confusion ...

Image: Hubble's cosmic atlas

July 28, 2017

This beautiful clump of glowing gas, dark dust and glittering stars is the spiral galaxy NGC 4248, located about 24 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs).

Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

July 3, 2015

This NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope picture shows a galaxy named SBS 1415+437 (also called SDSS CGB 12067.1), located about 45 million light-years from Earth. SBS 1415+437 is a Wolf-Rayet galaxy, ...

Hubble sees starbursts in Virgo

April 14, 2017

Although galaxy formation and evolution are still far from being fully understood, the conditions we see within certain galaxies—such as so-called starburst galaxies—can tell us a lot about how they have evolved over ...

Recommended for you

New eclipsing cataclysmic variable discovered

January 21, 2019

Using the Mobile Astronomical System of Telescope-Robots (MASTER), an international team of astronomers has detected a new eclipsing cataclysmic variable. The newfound object, designated MASTER OT J061451.70–272535.5, is ...

The disintegrating exoplanet K2-22b

January 21, 2019

Exoplanet surveys have yielded many surprises over the years, and the discovery of "disintegrating" exoplanets was one of them. These are planets that produce asymmetric shapes in the dips of the light curves seen as they ...

Total lunar eclipse woos sky watchers

January 21, 2019

An unusual set of celestial circumstances came together over Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday for sky watchers in Europe, Africa and the Americas, where the moon was fully obscured before lighting up again with a ...

Making stars when the universe was half its age

January 18, 2019

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, and its stars are arguably its most momentous handiwork. Astronomers studying the intricacies of star formation across cosmic time are trying to understand whether stars and the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.