Starburst galaxies are where stars are forming at such a breakneck rate that the galaxy is eating up its gas supply faster than it can be replenished. There are several different factors that can lead to such an ideal environment in which stars can form at such a rapid rate. Crucially, there has to be a sufficiently massive supply of gas. This might be acquired in a number of ways -- for example by passing very close to another galaxy, in a full-blown galactic collision, or as a result of some event that forces lots of gas into a relatively small space.
Star formation leaves some clues behind, so astronomers can tell where stars have been born. We know that starburst regions are rich in gas, that young stars in these extreme environments often live fast and die young, burning extremely hot and exhausting their gas supplies fairly quickly.
These stars also emit huge amounts of intense ultraviolet light, which blasts the electrons off any atoms of hydrogen lurking nearby (a process called ionization), leaving behind often colorful clouds of ionized hydrogen (known in astronomer-speak as HII regions). NGC 4536 is such a galaxy, captured here by the Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).
Located roughly 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin),
is a hub of extreme star formation.
Starbursts in NGC 4536
Although galaxy formation and evolution are still far from being fully understood, the conditions we see within starburst galaxies can at least tell us something about how they have evolved over time.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Government: There Is More To Science Than Government-Funded Jobs
- LHCb Measures Unity, Finds 0.6
- Science And The Structure Of An Argument: How To Sort Good Information From Bad.
- Kuphus Polythalamia: Giant Sulfur-Powered Shipworm Is The Stuff Of Science Fiction
- How To Control The Opioid Epidemic In The US
- Predicting Methane Rise, Using A Hydroxyl Radical Estimate
- Can IARC Be Salvaged?
- "Thanks for sharing..."
- "A lot of it boils down to conspiracy. And I have no reason to doubt astrophysicists and scientists..."
- "Yes, the region of q^2 near threshold (q^2 here is the ee or μμ invariant mass) is sensitive..."
- "Patrick,Do you get notified when I reply to this comment? My comment notification facility..."
- "You no speak Meerkatski Yazyk? Shouldn’t that be Simples ? ..."
- Wikitribune: Can Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Stop Fake News?
- As With Smoking, Using Disturbing Images to Stop Tanning Bed Use
- At West Point, the Future Health of Veterans Seems Bright
- Outreach: Science Marches, Our Event Appearances and Media Links
- Outreach: Science Marches and Media Links
- Why Your Mom Told You Not To Cross The Road
- Sympathetic nervous system: Your brain, not your white blood cells, keeps you warm
- You can't trust EWG about pesticides on fruits and vegetables
- In reading, kindergarten became the new first grade, thanks to No Child Left Behind
- Vitamin D supplements don't prevent cardiovascular disease
- Neonicotinoids detected in Iowa drinking water