Ever wondered what fireworks look like in space?
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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has caught a glimpse in space as a small, nearby galaxy pulled off a spectacular stellar fireworks display.
The galaxy named Kiso 5639 was originally known as a tadpole galaxy because of its bright, compact head and long tail extending from its body. Whilst spiral and elliptical galaxies are abundant in space, the tadpole galaxies are extremely rare and unusual. In a sample of 10,000 galaxies within a local universe, only 20 will be tadpole galaxies.
The particular image of the galaxy Kiso 5639 was taken in the firestorm of star birth which is making the galaxy burn even more fiercely. The brilliant blazing head and long star-studded tail has made it reminiscent of a July 4th skyrocket.
The stars in tadpole galaxies are generally very old as these galaxies have already used up their star forming material a long time ago and are left with no fuel to give birth to new generations of stars. Astronomers, however, suggest that the frenzied star birth in Kiso 5639 is triggered by intergalactic gas raining on one end of the galaxy as it drifts through space.
"I think Kiso 5639 is a beautiful, up-close example of what must have been common long ago," said lead researcher Debra Elmegreen of Vassar College. "The current thinking is that galaxies in the early universe grow from accreting gas from the surrounding neighborhood. It's a stage that galaxies, including our Milky Way, must go through as they are growing up."
Researchers have extensively studied the galaxy using powerful instruments installed on Hubble and checked the composition of its head and rest of the body. Researchers found that its head contains fewer heavier metals such as carbon and oxygen, than the rest of the galaxy while the presence of dozens of star cluster inside the head indicates that this part is more actively producing star than expected. The total mass of the stars is equivalent to some 10,000 suns and these stars are mostly made up of hydrogen and helium.
The galaxy is relatively close to us. It is located 82 million light years away from the Earth and it took billions of years to develop, mainly because the galaxy has been drifting through in the deserted universe which lacked the gases.
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