Astronomy Picture of the Day

NGC 6946: The Fireworks Galaxy

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#65500 by @ 26.01.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
NGC 6946: The Fireworks Galaxy

Why is this galaxy so active?

Nearby spiral galaxy
NGC 6946 is undergoing a tremendous burst of star formation
with no obvious cause.

In many cases spirals light up when interacting with another galaxy, but
NGC 6946 appears relatively isolated in space.

Located just 10 million
light years away toward the
constellation of Cepheus,
this beautiful face-on spiral spans about
20,000 light years and is seen through a field of foreground stars from our
Milky Way Galaxy.

The center of
NGC 6946 is home to a nuclear starburst itself, and picturesque dark dust is seen lacing the disk along with
bright blue stars,
red emission nebulas,
fast moving gas clouds, and unusually frequent

The 8-meter
Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii,
USA, took the
above image.

A suggested explanation
for the high star formation rate is the recent accretion of
many primordial low-mass neutral hydrogen clouds from the surrounding region.

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