Image Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and A. Aloisi (STScI/ESA)

NGC 1569 (pictured here) is a galaxy as mysterious as it is beautiful. Found about 11 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Camelopardalis, this galaxy is classified as a dwarf irregular starburst galaxy. Therein lies the mystery.

Astronomers have long been puzzled by the fact that this small, quaint galaxy is churning out new stars at such a rapid rate, far exceeding the rate seen in galaxies found much closer to home. Typically, starburst phases initiate after two galaxies interact or merge,  but that didn't appear to be the case with NGC 1569.

That is, until they took new estimates of its distance from Earth. Previous ones put it about 4 million light-years closer than it truly is, and with that, they learned that NGC 1569 has not one, but several neighbors (around 10). It stands to reason that at least two of them are interacting, hence the uptick in the production of new stars.

The change in distance also means we must rework several other pieces of information, like its intrinsic brightness and the rate at which new stars are popping up. Now, astronomers have doubled the previous rate, which suggests it's producing stars at a rate 100 times higher than that of the Milky Way, and it has been for 100 million years.

Science, it works..


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