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Hubble investigates where stars are born in this beautiful spiral galaxy

A new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows an “eye” deep in the heart of space: The spiral galaxy NGC 2835, located in the constellation of Hydra in the southern hemisphere. This particular galaxy is located near the head of the serpent for which the Hydra constellation is named.

The twisting patterns created by the multiple spiral arms of NGC 2835 create the illusion of an eye.
The twisting patterns created by the multiple spiral arms of NGC 2835 create the illusion of an eye. This is a fitting description, as this magnificent galaxy resides near the head of the southern constellation of Hydra, the water snake. This stunning barred spiral galaxy, with a width of just over half that of the Milky Way, is brilliantly featured in this image taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee, and the PHANGS-HST Team, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

This particular galaxy is notable for its regions of cold gas where new stars are being born, shown in bright blue. This color shows areas where light that is close to the ultraviolet range is being given off, which scientists know is related to the process of star formation.

The areas of dense, cold gas from which stars form are primarily comprised of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, which tends to form clumps due to the low temperatures. More and more gas clumps together and eventually, the clump has enough gravity that it pulls itself together and forms the basis of a star, called a protostar.

Astronomers are still researching the relationship between regions of cold gas and star formation, and this Hubble image was generated as part of a study into this topic called Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS with the Hubble Space Telescope (PHANGS-HST). This survey looks at nearby galaxies to chart the relationship between gas and young stars in different environments, in order to understand the timescale of star formation and how it varies based on the properties of particular regions.

“Expected to image over 100,000 gas clouds and star-forming regions outside our Milky Way, this survey hopes to uncover and clarify many of the links between cold gas clouds, star formation and the overall shape and morphology of galaxies,” the Hubble scientists said about PHANGS-HST in a statement.

The ongoing project uses tools like the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope’s MUSE instrument as well as Hubble.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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