The Hubble Telescope has delivered an incredible image of a river of star formation as four galaxies closely interact.
The newly-revised image, originally released in 2010, shows a rare interaction between the celestial bodies in the Hickson Compact Group 31.
NASA revealed the new image on May 17 with scientists referring to the pictured phenomenon as a river of star formation.
“This newly revised NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Hickson Compact Group 31 (HCG 31) of galaxies highlights streams of star-formation as four dwarf galaxies interact,” the agency wrote.
In the image, to the top right of center lies a distorted group of bright, blue and white stars, reports NASA.
This area is called NGC 1741 and it’s actually two dwarf galaxies colliding.
To the right of that, a cigar-shaped dwarf galaxy connects to it with a thin, blue stream of stars that connects the trio.
A fourth galaxy sits to the bottom left of the center of the photo.
A stream of young blue stars points directly to it, tying all four together in the relatively small space.
The bright object in the middle of the photo is a star situated between Earth and HCG 31, NASA wrote.
Dwarf galaxy encounters are usually seen billions of light-years away, meaning they occurred billions of years ago.
However, HCG 31 is located about 166 million light-years from Earth, which is relatively close by cosmic standards.
This newly-revised image highlights star-forming regions that have popped up due to the galaxies intermingling, referred to by NASA as “the quartet’s gravitational dance.”
“The color blue represents visible blue light and showcases young, hot, blue stars, while the color red represents near-infrared light,” scientists wrote.
Hubble’s impressive imagery
The Hubble Telescope has been helping scientists explore universes for over three decades.
Also in May, the telescope captured an awe-inspiring image of a spiral galaxy with a ‘grand design’.
The stunning photo was taken via its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and showcases the galaxy dubbed Messier 99 (or M99) in ultraviolet and optical lights.
In the photo, the galaxy’s dazzling arms take up most of the frame as they glisten in several hues of purple, blue, and dark red.
M99 is located approximately 55 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices.
It is considered a so-called grand design galaxy because of its “well-defined, prominent spiral arms,” the European Space Agency said in a statement.
Scientists noted that this image is significant because it helped them study two different astronomical phenomena.
Astronomers were able to further explore a fading cosmic explosion whose luminosity level is somewhere between novae and supernovae.
Novae are caused by the interactions between white dwarfs and larger stars in binary systems, while supernovae comprise the catastrophically violent deaths of massive stars.
The explosion was first observed in 2010 and is considered a big mystery by scientists, who are uncertain about what caused it.
One such explanation proposed by researchers includes that the star’s increased brightness could have been caused by “a giant planet plunging into its parent star,” NASA said.
Second, researchers were able to use the image to explore the connection between a young star and the gas clouds it grows from.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced here with permission.
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