NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of a distant galaxy which contains a number of stellar nurseries.
The multiple bright, pinkish clouds in NGC 4700 are known as H II regions, where intense ultraviolet light from hot young stars causes nearby hydrogen gas to glow. H II regions often come part-and-parcel with the vast molecular clouds responsible for spawning fresh stars, thus giving rise to the locally-ionized gas.
In 1610, French astronomer Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc peered through a telescope and found what turned out to be the first H II region on record: the Orion Nebula, located relatively close to our Solar System here in the Milky Way.
Astronomers study these regions throughout the Milky Way and those easily seen in other galaxies to gauge the chemical makeup of cosmic environments and their influence on the formation of stars.
According to NASA scientists, NGC 4700 appears to be an edge-on galaxy. It was discovered way back in March 1786 by the British astronomer William Herschel who charted the galaxy as a “very faint nebula.”
NGC 4700, along with many other relatively close galaxies, is found in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) and is classified as a barred spiral galaxy, similar in structure to the Milky Way.
It lies about 50 million light-years from Earth and is moving away from us at approximatetly 1400 km/second due to the expansion of the Universe.