Here in the Universe, in the Milky Way and beyond, new stars are birthed continuously.
When large-enough clouds of gas or dust collapse, star formation is inevitable.
They don’t simply form in isolation, but in large clusters, usually containing thousands of new stars.
From its perch above Earth, the Hubble Space Telescope can view these newborn, individual stars in galaxies beyond the Milky Way.
There are a massive variety of star-forming regions nearby, and Hubble’s new Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) is now the sharpest, most comprehensive one ever.
By imaging 50 nearby, star-forming spiral and dwarf galaxies, astronomers can see how the galactic environment affects star-formation.
In dwarf galaxies, the most active star-formation occurs away from each galaxy’s center.
Instead, star-formation is concentrated in clusters where the neutral gas is densest, theoretically triggered by gravitational interactions.
In the spirals, by contrast, waves of star-formation occur along dark, dusty features tracing the spiral arms.
As the newborn stars heat the nearby gas, it ionizes, leading to a pink color as the electrons recombine with hydrogen ions.
Understanding how star-formation is connected to its environment represents the final link between the initial gas and the end population of stars.