Starburst galaxy gives birth to twenty Suns every year

Illustration for article titled Starburst galaxy gives birth to twenty Suns every year

Say hello to the Haro 11 galaxy, shining brightly from 300 million light-years away. One of the busiest stellar nurseries in the universe, this is one of the youngest examples of a starburst galaxies that is constantly pumping out stars.

Haro galaxies are a type of galaxy named for their discoverer Guillermo Haro, who first spotted one in 1956. They are known for their intense, constant bursts of blue and violet light, which generally means one of two things: either it has a particularly active galactic nucleus, or a ton of new stars are being born. In this particular case, it's the latter.

It's also a relatively young galaxy - it's just 40 million years old*, likely formed from the merger of an older, star-rich galaxy and a younger, gas-rich galaxy. But even that is relatively ancient when you consider it only reached its peak of star production about 3.5 million years ago. But when it hit its peak, it really hit its peak, forming twenty solar masses worth of new stars every year. That's the equivalent of 70 million Suns formed during this period of peak production.


The galaxy's youth provides astronomers with a unique opportunity to study the earliest phases of both stellar and galactic formation, as its discovers note:

"With such an extremely young cluster population, Haro 11 represents a unique opportunity to investigate the youngest phase of the cluster formation process and evolution in starburst systems.


*It's worth pointing out that the 40 million and 3.5 million year dates aren't adjusted to account for the approximately 300 million years it's taken for the light from Haro 11 to reach Earth. So it's actually about 340 million years old now, but because we're observing it in its considerably younger state, those are the dates we conventionally use.


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Han Solo Stole My Nerf Herd

The galaxy gives birth to twenty Suns every year? That's more litters than the feral cats in my backyard.