Milky Way's neighbour might not be so ‘dead’ with young stars brewing at its center

Milky Way's neighbour might not be so ‘dead’ with young stars brewing at its center
Young, blue stars at the center of Messier 110NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

  • The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a dwarf elliptical galaxy Messier 110 with new stars at the center.
  • Elliptical galaxies are normally thought of as 'dead' were no gases available for the formation of new stars.
  • The discovery of blue stars at the center of Messier 110 hint that elliptical galaxies have the potential to create new stars.
Elliptical galaxies — galaxies that don't have circular arms and the grandeur of spiral galaxies like the Milky Way — are normally dull and dark with the bare minimum of star activity.

But the Messier 110 might be an exception.

The galaxy looks like the many elliptical galaxies in between the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy — Milky Way's closest neighbor — except for one major difference. Messier 110 isn't as 'dead' as it was thought to be.

An image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows that there are bright blue young stars at the center of the galaxy. They're at least thrice the size of the Sun. Since they're bigger in size, they burn much hotter and much quicker.

This is highly uncommon because dwarf elliptical galaxies like Messier 10 lack arms and the notable pockets of star formation, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Defeating death

Dwarf elliptical galaxies don't normally contain new stars. Astronomers believe this is because black holes are the center of the galaxies, and eating up the gas needed for the formation of new stars, according to a study published in Nature.

Another theory for the lack of new stars is that dwarf ellipticals are only by-products of collisions between major galaxies. The collision is theorised to strip away the gas required for forming stars.

But, the discovery of new stars in Messier 110 negates both those hypotheses.

Elliptical galaxies, themselves, aren't uncommon. They're actually quite common in groups and clusters of galaxies. The Messier 110 is a close neighbor of the Milky Way and one of the satellite galaxies circling the Andromeda galaxy.

See also:
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Hubble has found a black hole disk that should be non-existent