Star Power

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

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FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO

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

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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.

© ESO/PHANGS

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:

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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.

© ESO/PHANGS

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