The Orion Nebula in False Color

This false color image of the Orion Nebula was generated using visible light and infrared data from two of the instruments onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows a segment of the sky about 0.002° wide. That works out to around 3.4 light-years at the nebula which is 1,500 light-years away.

Image Credit: Nasa / ESA / STScI

Messier 106

Messier 106 also known as NGC 4258 is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 22 to 25 million light-years away from Earth. It is also a Seyfert II galaxy. X-rays and unusual emission lines have been detected coming from M106, leading astronomers to suspect that part of the galaxy is falling into a supermassive black hole in the center. A Type II supernova was observed in this galaxy in May, 2014. A Type II supernova is caused by a the rapid collapse and subsequent violent explosion of a massive star.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Westerlund 1

This is a young super star cluster known as Westerlund 1. It’s the home of one of the largest stars yet found. Westerlund 1-26 is a red supergiant with a radius over 1,500 times that of our sun. Indeed, it’s sometimes referred to as a hypergiant star. If Westerlund 1-26 were at the center of our solar system, it would extend out beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

The Westerlund 1 cluster is relatively young in astronomical terms, around three million years old. The Sun is around 4.6 billion years old.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

A Dwarf Starburst Galaxy

NGC 1705 is a oddball irregular dwarf galaxy undergoing a starburst. It’s about 17 million light-years from the Earth in the constellation Pictor. Dwarf galaxies were probably the first systems to collapse and start forming stars in the early universe. They represent the building blocks from which more massive objects (such as spiral and elliptical galaxies) were formed through mergers. The remaining dwarf galaxies are thought to be the leftovers of the galaxy-formation process.

Image Credit: NASA