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Hubble Resolves Swarms of Stars in Nearby Galaxy
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Hubble Resolves Swarms of Stars in Nearby Galaxy

September 30, 2008
These images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope capture three close-up views of the spiral galaxy NGC 300, a member of the Sculptor Group of galaxies near our Milky Way. NGC 300 resides 7 million light-years from Earth.

In the image at far left, Hubble resolves a dense swarm of stars, patches of dust, and a bright central star cluster. This cluster lies at the very nucleus of the galaxy. Similar clusters are thought to be related to the formation of supermassive black holes. The image at center shows a star-forming region a few thousand light-years farther from the galaxy's center. The yellow blobs are the glow from hot gas that has been heated by radiation from the nearest young, blue stars. The image at far right reveals more diffuse groupings of young, blue stars, farther away from the galaxy's center, along with faint shells of hot gas.

NGC 300 is part of a detailed survey called the ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury program (ANGST). In this census Hubble observed roughly 14 million stars in 69 galaxies. The survey explored a region called the "Local Volume," and the galaxy distances ranged from 6.5 million light-years to 13 million light-years from Earth. The Local Volume resides beyond the Local Group of galaxies, an even nearer collection of a few dozen galaxies within about 3 million light-years of our Milky Way Galaxy.

The natural-color images were constructed using observations taken in infrared, visible, and blue light. The observations were made in November 2006 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.