An image of the spiral galaxy NGC 253, taken with a ground-based telescope. The galaxy is located about 8 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor.
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the core of the nearest starburst spiral galaxy, NGC 253, reveals violent star formation within a region 1,000 light-years across. A starburst galaxy has an exceptionally high rate of star birth, first identified by its excess of infrared radiation from warm dust. Hubble's high resolution allows astronomers to quantify complex structures in the starburst core of the galaxy for the first time, including luminous star clusters, dust lanes which trace regions of dense gas and filaments of glowing gas. Hubble identifies several regions of intense star formation, which include a bright, super-compact star cluster. These observations confirm that stars are often born in dense clusters within starbursts, and that dense gas coexists with and obscures the starburst core. This image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (in PC mode).
Left Credit: Jay Gallagher (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Alan Watson (Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ), and NASA
Right Credit: Carnegie Institution of Washington