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Hubble Identifies Source of Ultraviolet Light in an Old Galaxy

As announced on October 26, 1999, NASA Hubble Space Telescope's exquisite resolution has allowed astronomers to resolve, for the first time, hot blue stars deep inside the small nearby elliptical galaxy M32. Images were obtaines with the Space Telescope Imageing Spectrograph (STIS) of a small portion near the center of M32, about 1/20th the diameter of the galaxy. With this observation, Hubble discovered that the ultraviolet light comes from a population of extremely hot helium-burning stars. About 8000 of these late-stage stars were found near the core of the neighboring galaxy, "resembling a blizard of snowflakes", as the Nasa release puts it.

  • Locate the field imaged by HST in M32 (image courtesy Bill Keel)

  • Original STScI Press Release, STScI-PRC99-40
  • This image was featured as Astronomical Picture of the Day November 3, 1999

  • More images of M32
  • Amateur images of M32

    Hartmut Frommert (spider@seds.org)
    Christine Kronberg (smil@lrz.uni-muenchen.de)

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    Last Modification: 14 Aug 1999, 23:00 MET