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Starbursts in NGC 5398
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Name: NGC 5398
Description: Barred Spiral galaxy
Position (J2000): RA 14h 1m 22.06s Dec -33° 3' 49.35"
Constellation: Centaurus
Distance: 55 million light years
Visual magnitude: 12.6
Angular size: 3.3 × 1.8 arcmin
Field of view: 3.38 x 1.69 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 99.1° right of vertical
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Release date: September 11, 2017
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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope picture shows NGC 5398, a barred spiral galaxy located about 55 million light-years away.

The galaxy is famous for containing an especially extensive HII region, a large cloud composed of ionized hydrogen (or HII, pronounced "H-two", with H being the chemical symbol for hydrogen and the "II" indicating that the atoms have lost an electron to become ionized). NGC 5398's cloud is named Tol 89 and sits at the lower left end of the galaxy's central "bar" of stars, a structure that cuts through the galactic core and funnels material inwards to maintain the star formation occurring there.

Tol 89 is conspicuous in being the only large massive star forming complex in the entire galaxy, with an extension of roughly 5000 times 4000 light-years; it contains at least seven young and massive star clusters. The two brightest clumps within Tol 89, which astronomers have named simply "A" and "B", appear to have undergone two bursts of star-forming activity - "starbursts" - roughly 4 million and less than 3 million years ago respectively. Tol 89-A is thought to contain a number of particularly bright and massive stars known as Wolf-Rayet stars, which are known for their high temperatures and extreme stellar winds.