Star Power

Stunning images of nearby galaxies show how stars are formed: Look

xponentialdesign via Giphy

FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO

How do stars form? It’s a question that’s fascinated researchers for a long time.


Today, we know that clouds of gas give birth to stars, but the early stages of formation are still a mystery.

That’s why it helps to capture images of stars when they’re young, so researchers can better understand their chemical composition and how they develop.


Recent images by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory and Max Planck Institute in Germany capture baby stars in stunning composites of our nearby galaxies.

Here are a few gorgeous snapshots:

Guang Cao/Moment/Getty Images
Galaxy NGC 4303. The warm, golden spots signify the birthplaces of new stars.© ESO/PHANGS
Galaxy NGC 4254. Cooler colors, like blue and purple, mark the location of older stars.© ESO/PHANGS

The photos weren’t captured in a single snap — rather, multiple telescopes on Earth and in space took shots at different wavelengths: radio, visible light, and near-infrared.

Here’s a demonstration of how researchers layered images of NGC 4303 to create a single composite.European Southern Observatory (ESO)

© F. Santoro & T. Müller (HdA)/PHANGS/MUSE

This helps researchers capture a more complete picture of our neighboring galaxies.

Here’s a visual representation, below, of how colors across the electromagnetic spectrum are layered for each image.


Seeing the universe in richer detail will give astronomers new insight into the many mysteries we have yet to solve.

Read more stories about science here.

FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO