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Hubble captures glowing gas bubbles

india Updated: Sep 30, 2011 13:57 IST

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a distant galaxy that appears to blowing bubbles.

The bubbles are actually intricate glowing shells of gas in the galaxy, dubbed Holmberg II, created by the lifecycles of many generations of stars.

High-mass stars form in dense regions of gas, and later in life expel strong stellar winds that blow away the surrounding material.

At the very end of their lives, they explode in as a supernova.

Shock waves rip through the less dense regions around the stars, heating the gas and forming the delicate shells we see today.

Holmberg II is a patchwork of dense star-forming regions and extensive barren areas with less material, which can stretch across thousands of light-years.

It has neither the spiral arms typical of galaxies like the Milky Way nor the dense nucleus of an elliptical galaxy, which makes it, gravitationally speaking, a gentle haven where fragile structures such as these bubbles can hold their shape.