Hubble’s New View of Star Birth in M83, the Southern Pinwheel


The spectacular new camera installed on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope during Servicing Mission 4 in May has delivered the most detailed view of star birth in the graceful, curving arms of the nearby spiral galaxy M83.

Nicknamed the Southern Pinwheel, M83 is undergoing more rapid star formation than our own Milky Way galaxy, especially in its nucleus. The sharp “eye” of the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) has captured hundreds of young star clusters, ancient swarms of globular star clusters, and hundreds of thousands of individual stars, mostly blue supergiants and red supergiants.

The image, taken in August 2009, provides a close-up view of the myriad stars near the galaxy’s core, the bright whitish region at far right.

WFC3′s broad wavelength range, from ultraviolet to near-infrared, reveals stars at different stages of evolution, allowing astronomers to dissect the galaxy’s star-formation history.

M83, located in the Southern Hemisphere, is often compared to M51, dubbed the Whirlpool galaxy, in the Northern Hemisphere. Located 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra, M83 is two times closer to Earth than M51.

Source: Hubble Site

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