Sometimes I listen to Hellogoodbye and life feels better.
It is difficult for even the most seasoned astronomer to resist taking time out of a busy observing schedule to stop and stare up at the gloriously rich southern sky.
This image is a self portrait taken by astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons, who took this photo between observing sessions at ESO’s La Silla Observatory.
This bold photo shows the contrast between a simple, still and dark figure on Earth and the brilliant and bright starry night sky. In this picture, the sky is dominated by the enormous splash of stars and dust which make up the centre of the Milky Way, our home galaxy.
This beautiful, glittering swirl is named, rather unpoetically, J125013.50+073441.5. A glowing haze of material seems to engulf the galaxy, stretching out into space in different directions and forming a fuzzy streak in this image.
It is a starburst galaxy — a name given to galaxies that show unusually high rates of star formation. The regions where new stars are being born are highlighted by sparkling bright blue regions along the galactic arms.
Studying starburst galaxies can tell us a lot about galactic evolution and star formation. These galaxies start off with huge amounts of gas, which is used to form new stars.
This period of furious star formation is only a phase; once all the gas is used up, this starbirth slows down. Other famous starbursts captured by Hubble include the Antennae Galaxies (heic0615) and Messier 82 (heic0604), the latter of which is forming new stars ten times faster than our galaxy, the Milky Way.