Outflows from 12 Merging Galaxies
The 12 galaxies in these Hubble Space Telescope images are undergoing a firestorm of star birth, as shown by their bright white cores. Hubble reveals that the galaxies' star-making frenzy was ignited by mergers with other galaxies. The odd shapes of many of the galaxies are telltale evidence of those close encounters.
The new Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 observations suggest that energy from the star-birthing frenzy created powerful winds that are blowing out the gas, squelching future generations of stars. This activity occurred when the universe was half its current age of 13.7 billion years. The gas-poor galaxies may eventually become so-called "red and dead" galaxies, composed only of aging stars.
The galaxies are the most compact yet found. They contain as much mass as our Milky Way galaxy, but packed into a much smaller area. The smallest galaxies are about 650 light-years across.
The Hubble false-color images were processed to bring out important details in the galaxies. The images were taken in 2010.