Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Aloisi (STScI/ESA), and The Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Dwarf galaxy NGC 4449 is home to a massive star-formation explosion. Scientists call this intense period of star-making a starburst. Astronomers believe the increase was likely triggered by a close interaction or merger with a smaller companion.
Explore the image from the tip of the head at the left to the tail on the right. Hundreds of thousands of red and blue stars blaze this galaxy. Huge bluish-white clusters of massive stars are seen scattered throughout. Reddish clouds of interstellar gas and dust show regions of current star formation. The stars are redder here because the dust clouds between us are thick. Thicker dust clouds are silhouetted against the galactic starlight.
NGC 4449 is part of a group of galaxies in the small, northern constellation Canes Venatici that is only 12.5 million light years from Earth; right in the neighborhood of the Milky Way. Canes Venatici was created by Johnannes Hevelius in the 17th century. The name is Latin for hunting dogs, representing the mythological dogs Chara and Asterion being held by the neighboring constellation BoÃ¶tes, the Herdsman.