Hot Stars Found Hidden in Galaxy's Dusty Embrace
This infrared image of the nearby galaxy Messier 83 was taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile.
Credit: ESO

A European telescope has used infrared vision to pierce the veil of dust around the galaxy Messier 83, and revealed clusters of young stars hidden within dusty regions that harbor star factories.

The new galaxy photo comes courtesy of the HAWK-1 camera belonging to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Such findings help astronomers seek out the younger star clusters in order to better understand the birth and evolution of stars.

An infrared view not only eliminates makes much of the dust effectively transparent, but also tones down the brightly lit gas that tends to hang around hot young stars.

Binocular-wielding stargazers already know Messier 83 as one of the brightest nearby galaxies. The galaxy is located 15 million light-years away from Earth and spans over 40,000 light-years, where a light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).

Messier 83 also looks like a strikingly similar twin to our Milky Way galaxy with its spiral shape and bar of stars across the center, despite having just 40 percent the size of the Milky Way.

Astronomers recognize Messier 83 for its record-breaking number of observed supernovas that mark the end of many a star's life. Just one other galaxy can match that record.

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