The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a stellar look at a strange cosmic starburst.
In a new image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the dwarf galaxy NGC 1705 shines in a cloud of bright light and red clouds. The tiny, irregularly-shaped galaxy, which lies in the constellation Pictor about 17 million light-years away from Earth, is what the European Space Agency has described as a “cosmic oddball.”
Recently, NGC 1705 went through a “starburst” phase, meaning it was experiencing an unusually high rate of star formation.
Irregular dwarf galaxies like this usually have fewer elements than larger galaxies and consist mostly of hydrogen and helium. Because of this they are thought to be similar to the universe’s earliest galaxies.
This image was captured by using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to observe a specific light wavelength known as H-alpha, according to a statement from ESA. By looking at this wavelength, astronomers hoped to detect areas where young, energetic stars light up the gas clouds around them with ultraviolet light.
Hubble last peered out at NGC 1705 in 1999 when astronomers used the telescope’s camera (at the time, it was the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2) to observe the galaxy’s center. These new observations, which use much newer technology on Hubble, can provide more detail and a more complete look at the galaxy.