FOR RELEASE: 9:00 a.m. (EST) March 7, 2001

Hubble Spies Huge Clusters of Stars Formed by Ancient Encounter

Studying galactic interactions is like sifting through the forensic evidence at a crime scene. Astronomers wade through the debris of a violent encounter, collecting clues so that they can reconstruct the celestial crime to determine when it happened. Take the case of M82, a small, nearby galaxy that long ago bumped into its larger neighbor, M81. When did this violent encounter occur? New infrared and visible-light pictures from the Hubble telescope reveal for the first time important details of large clusters of stars, which arose from the interaction.

Credits for Hubble image: NASA, ESA, R. de Grijs (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK)

Credits for ground-based picture: N.A. Sharp (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, National Optical Astronomy Observatories, National Science Foundation)


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