Utraviolet Light Source in an Old Galaxy, 1999.
© National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society
Hubble Space Telescope's exquisite resolution has allowed astronomers to resolve, for the first time, hot blue stars deep inside an elliptical galaxy. The swarm of nearly 8,000 blue stars resembles a blizzard of snowflakes near the core (lower right) of the neighboring galaxy M32, located 2.5 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. Hubble confirms that the ultraviolet light comes from a population of extremely hot helium-burning stars at a late stage in their lives. Unlike the Sun, which burns hydrogen into helium, these old stars exhausted their central hydrogen long ago, and now burn helium into heavier elements.