Image: Hubble views a galaxy fit to burst

July 25, 2016 , NASA
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image reveals the vibrant core of the galaxy NGC 3125. Discovered by John Herschel in 1835, NGC 3125 is a great example of a starburst galaxy—a galaxy in which unusually high numbers of new stars are forming, springing to life within intensely hot clouds of gas.

Located approximately 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Antlia (The Air Pump), NGC 3125 is similar to, but unfathomably brighter and more energetic than, one of the Magellanic Clouds. Spanning 15,000 light-years, the galaxy displays massive and violent bursts of star formation, as shown by the hot, young, and blue scattered throughout the galaxy's rose-tinted core. Some of these clumps of stars are notable—one of the most extreme Wolf–Rayet star clusters in the local Universe, NGC 3125-A1, resides within NGC 3125.

Despite their appearance, the fuzzy white blobs dotted around the edge of this galaxy are not stars, but . Found within a galaxy's halo, globular clusters are ancient collections of hundreds of thousands of stars. They orbit around galactic centers like satellites—the Milky Way, for example, hosts over 150 of them.

Provided by NASA