Hubble Space Telescope captures incredible photo

By Dan Taylor | May 19, 2018
An absolutely astonishing new image have just been released from the Hubble Space Telescope, as you can see above, and it could have a profound impact on our future study of how stars form and how galaxies evolved. The image is part of the LEGUS project, which is short for Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey.

The Hubble Space Telescope used its Advanced Camera and Wide Field Camera 3 to take this image, which processes the ultraviolet spectrum into something we can see, enabling scientists to see neighboring galaxies in a 60 million light year radius from here on Earth.

A total of 39 million individual stars have been studied this way, as well as about 8,000 star clusters. By studying these images, scientists may be able to understand better how stars form, and therefore help us unravel the mystery of life and existence itself.

"LEGUS (Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey) is a Treasury Program that will image 50 local (closer than 12 Mpc) galaxies in multiple colours with WFC3 and ACS. Because of the proximity of all targets, the galaxies will be resolved into their main components: stars, star clusters, and associations," states the LEGUS website. "The observations will be used to accomplish the main science goals of LEGUS: (1) quantify how the clustering of star formation evolves both in space and time, (2) discriminate among models of star cluster evolution, (3) investigate the effects of SFH on the UV SFR calibrations, (4) explore the impacts of environment on star formation and cluster evolution across the full range of galactic and ISM properties, (5) investigate UV-excess globular clusters across multiple environments, (6) study the environment surrounding supernovae."

NASA's Hubble website says that the telescope offers "unparalleled sharpness and ultraviolet observational capabilities," which makes these types of images possible.

"Ultraviolet light is a major tracer of the youngest and hottest stars. These stars are short-lived and intensely bright. Astronomers have now finished a survey called LEGUS (Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey) that captured the details of 50 local galaxies within 60 million light-years of Earth in both visible and ultraviolet light," the site states. "The LEGUS team carefully selected its targets from among 500 candidate galaxies compiled from ground-based surveys. They chose the galaxies based on their mass, star-formation rate, and their abundances of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. Because of the proximity of the selected galaxies, Hubble was able to resolve them into their main components: stars and star clusters. With the LEGUS data, the team created a catalogue with about 8000 young clusters and it also created a star catalogue comprising about 39 million stars that are at least five times more massive than our Sun."

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