This is an image of dwarf galaxy NGC 1140, which is ten times smaller than the Milky Way but is producing stars at roughly the same rate as our lovely galaxy. The blue stars in the image are the new ones.

Via the European Space Agency:

Galaxies like NGC 1140 — small, starbursting and containing large amounts of primordial gas with way fewer elements heavier than hydrogen and helium than present in our Sun — are of particular interest to astronomers. Their composition makes them similar to the intensely star-forming galaxies in the early Universe. And these early Universe galaxies were the building blocks of present-day large galaxies like our galaxy, the Milky Way. But, as they are so far away these early Universe galaxies are harder to study so these closer starbursting galaxies are a good substitute for learning more about galaxy evolution .

The vigorous star formation will have a very destructive effect on this small dwarf galaxy in its future. When the larger stars in the galaxy die, and explode as supernovae, gas is blown into space and may easily escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy. The ejection of gas from the galaxy means it is throwing out its potential for future stars as this gas is one of the building blocks of star formation. NGC 1140’s starburst cannot last for long.

Advertisement

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA


Contact the author at katharine@io9.com.

Advertisement