Get together and I’ll tell you about birds and bees – and galaxies. Sometimes two galaxies come together with spectacular consequences, including a baby star boom. NASA and the European Space Agency̵
ESA released the images to celebrate the beginning of 2021. “These systems are excellent laboratories for tracking the formation of star clusters in extreme physical conditions,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday. Star clusters are exactly what they sound like: groups of stars.
All galaxies are showing signs of their wild past. ESA describes the galaxy NGC 3256 as peculiar and distorted. NGC 3690 is a “supernova factory,” and the image on NGC 6052 shows two galaxies still in collision.
The Hubble Extreme Media and Cluster Survey (HiPEEC), which delivers the images, focused on stellar clusters in galaxies and what happens to them when their host systems merge. The collisions lead to the formation of new stars, increasing the star’s birth rate.
NASA has unveiled 30 dazzling new Hubble space images for an epic anniversary
See all photos
“The Milky Way usually forms star clusters with masses that are 10,000 times larger than the mass of our sun,” ESA said. “This is not comparable to the masses of star clusters formed in colliding galaxies that can reach the mass of our sun millions of times.”
HiPEEC researchers have found that large clusters of stars in the combined galaxies remain very bright even after the collision has subsided. Although the mergers are dramatic for the affected galaxies, Earth viewers can safely see the beautiful effects thanks to Hubble’s sharp eye.