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In a Universe of Wonders: NASA’s Hubble Presents a Holiday Globe of a Billion Stars

The billion stars in galaxy UGC 8091 resemble a sparkling snow globe in this festive Hubble Space Telescope image from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESA, Yumi Choi (NSF’s NOIRLab), Karoline Gilbert (STScI), Julianne Dalcanton (Center for Computational Astrophysics/Flatiron Inst., UWashington)

Dwarf Irregular Galaxy Springs to Life With Dazzling Newborn Stars

Hubble’s colorful snapshots show that the universe always looks like it’s in a holiday spirit. The dwarf irregular galaxy UGC 8091 is an opulent example. The dizzying interplay of matter and energy bubbles up to create dazzling blue, newborn stars that look like a festive string of lights. They are swaddled in glowing cocoons of hot, pink hydrogen gas. The galaxy is a collection of approximately 1 billion stars. That sounds like a lot, but it is 1/100th the stellar population inside our full-grown Milky WayThe Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System and is part of the Local Group of galaxies. It is a barred spiral galaxy that contains an estimated 100-400 billion stars and has a diameter between 150,000 and 200,000 light-years. The name "Milky Way" comes from the appearance of the galaxy from Earth as a faint band of light that stretches across the night sky, resembling spilled milk.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Milky Way galaxy.

This little galaxy came late to the party. The early universe was awash in dwarf galaxies that eventually merged to build up the majestic spiral galaxies around us today. Located 7 million light-years away, UGC 8091 more recently started showing off a glittering tapestry.

Hubble Space Telescope in Orbit Illustration

The Hubble Space Telescope is an iconic symbol of space exploration that launched into orbit in 1990. Hubble revolutionized astronomy by providing unprecedented clear and deep views of the universe, far beyond the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere. Credit: NASA

Hubble Space Telescope Presents a Holiday Globe of Stars

The billion stars in galaxy UGC 8091 resemble a sparkling snow globe in this festive Hubble Space TelescopeThe Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as Hubble or HST) is one of NASA's Great Observatories and was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990. It is one of the largest and most versatile space telescopes in use and features a 2.4-meter mirror and four main instruments that observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Hubble Space Telescope image from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

The dwarf galaxy is approximately 7 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. It is considered an “irregular galaxy” because it does not have an orderly spiral or elliptical appearance. Instead, the stars that make up this celestial gathering look more like a brightly shining tangle of string lights than a galaxy.

Some irregular galaxies may have become tangled by tumultuous internal activity, while others have formed by interactions with neighboring galaxies. The result is a class of galaxies with a diverse array of sizes and shapes, including the diffuse scatter of stars that is this galaxy.

Twelve camera filters were combined to produce this image, with light from the mid-ultraviolet through to the red end of the visible spectrum. The red patches are likely interstellar hydrogen molecules that are glowing because they have been excited by the light from hot, energetic stars. The other sparkles on show in this image are a mix of older stars. An array of distant, diverse galaxies appear in the background, captured by Hubble’s sharp view.

The data used in this image were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys from 2006 to 2021.

Among other things, the observing programs involved in this image sought to investigate the role that dwarf galaxies many billions of years ago had in re-heating the hydrogen that had cooled as the universe expanded after the Big BangThe Big Bang is the leading cosmological model explaining how the universe as we know it began approximately 13.8 billion years ago.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Big Bang.

Astronomers are also investigating the composition of dwarf galaxies and their stars to uncover the evolutionary links between these ancient galaxies and more modern galaxies like our own.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>NASA and ESA. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble and Webb science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, in Washington, D.C.

Source: SciTechDaily