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News Release Archive:

News Release 291 of 955

January 8, 2008 02:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2008-02

Hubble Finds that "Blue Blobs" in Space Are Orphaned Clusters of Stars

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Image: Location of the Blue Blobs in Galaxy Group

Location of the Blue Blobs in Galaxy GroupSTScI-PRC2008-02a

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

[LEFT] A GALEX ultraviolet image of the interacting galaxies M81 and M82, which lie 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The gravity from each galaxy dramatically affected the other during their last close encounter, 200 million years ago. Gas density waves rippling around M81 make it a grand design spiral. M82 is undergoing a starburst at its core, creating glowing fingers of hydrogen.

[RIGHT] A Hubble Space Telescope visible light image of bright blue star clusters found along a wispy bridge of gas that was tidally stretched between the two galaxies, and a third companion galaxy not seen in this picture. This is not the place astronomers expect to find star clusters because the density of gas is so low. Turbulence in the gas may have enhanced the density locally to trigger starbirth. The so-called "blue blobs" are clumped together in a structure called Arp's Loop. Hubble reveals the clusters contain the equivalent of five Orion Nebulae. A Hubble plot of the stellar population in the clusters yields an age of approximately 200 million years, which coincides with the epoch of the collision.

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. de Mello (Catholic University of America/GSFC)

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Hubble View of Arp's Loop Image Type: Astronomical Hubble View of Arp's Loop GALEX View of M81-M82 Group Image Type: Astronomical GALEX View of M81-M82 Group

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