NGC 2366 is a dwarf galaxy placed at a distance of 11 millions of light-years (3.4 millions of parsecs). Its irregular shape and stellar content make it similar to the Magellanic Clouds, the two irregular dwarf galaxies very close to our own. For scale, NGC 2366 is about 20 000 light-years wide, what makes it twice as large as the Large Magellanic Cloud, and four times larger than the Small Magellanic Cloud, but still classified as a dwarf galaxy.
Astronomers deduced that NGC 2366 underwent a massive starburst episode only 50 million years ago and find that intense star formation is still taking place at several areas of this galaxy. This image beautifully displays the regions where young stars are being formed (red nebulae) because the surrounding hydrogen gas (the raw material from which stars form) has already been ionised by ultraviolet radiation from young stars. This ionised hydrogen is seen also as large filaments and shell structures shining in red throughout the this galaxy. The most outstanding star forming regions are seen towards the upper-right side of the image. The telltale youth of the stars that constitute this galaxy can be seen in the bluish colours of its elongated main body.
The core of our galaxy, seen in infrared light, and inverted. The black mass in the center is the location of Sagittarius A, the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy, which has the mass of 4 million suns.
The core of our galaxy, seen in infrared light by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Blue light is from stars, green light is from polycyclic carbon molecules, yellow and red light is from the thermal glow of warm dust. This image spans approximately 1000 light years by 1600 light years. The galactic core is 26000 light years away.