Clusters of new stars form when dense clouds of dust and gas left over from galaxy formation are crunched together by the colossal gravitational forces in the centers of galaxies. Giant molecular clouds contain enough gas to form more than 100,000 stars like our sun.

These close-up views of the cores of each galaxy show entrapped dust and gas being funneled into the center. The scale bar at the top of each image is 1,500 light-years across. The cores are obscured by dust, which dims and reddens starlight by scattering the shorter, bluer wavelengths. The young star clusters in these dusty regions appear red instead of blue.

Images: BRAD WHITMORE, Space Telescope Science Institute and NASA

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