Fireworks Galaxy (NGC 6946) (Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MSSL/R.Soria et al, Optical: AURA/Gemini OBs)

As Americans celebrate the fourth of July, we commemorate Independence Day with another stunning image of NGC 6946: aptly called the Fireworks Galaxy. It can be found roughly 22 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cepheus.

To us, NGC 6946 appears face-on, which gives us a good vantage point; we can see its inwards, especially prominent in this image are eight supernovae (seen in purple). Optical light can be seen in red, yellow and cyan (collected by the Gemini Observatory).

These supernovae give NGC 6946 its nickname.3 of the 8 are among the oldest ever found. Additionally, All were found within a stretch of 100 years, which indicates that the galaxy underwent a starburst phase in its recent past.

See a larger image here.


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