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    Star births seen on cosmic scale in distant galaxy

    The unnamed galaxy creates about 740 new stars a year.
    The unnamed galaxy creates about 740 new stars a year.

    WASHINGTON — Scientists have found a cosmic supermom. It’s a galaxy that gives birth to more stars in one day than ours does in a year.

    Astronomers used NASA’s Chandra X-Ray telescope to spot this distant, gigantic galaxy creating about 740 new stars a year. By comparison, our Milky Way galaxy spawns just about one new star each year.

    The galaxy is about 5.7 billion light years away in the center of a recently discovered cluster of galaxies that give off the brightest X-ray glow astronomers have seen. It is by far the biggest creation of stars that astronomers have seen for this kind of galaxy. Other types, such as colliding galaxies, can produce even more stars, astronomers said.


    But this is the size, type, and age of galaxy that shouldn’t be producing stars at such a rapid pace, said the authors of a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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    ‘‘It’s very extreme,’’ said Harvard University astronomer Ryan Foley, coauthor of the study. ‘‘It pushes the boundaries of what we understand.’’

    The unnamed galaxy — officially known by a string of letters and numbers — is about 3 trillion times the size of our sun, said study lead author Michael McDonald of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    There’s another strange thing about this galaxy. It’s fairly mature, maybe 6 billion years old. Usually, this kind doesn’t do anything new. It’s “what we call red and dead,’’ McDonald said in an interview. ‘‘It seems to have come back to life for some reason.’’

    Associated Press