A Chandra X-ray Observatory image of Messier 82, or M82, shows the result of star formation on overdrive. M82 is located about 12 million light-years from Earth and is the nearest place to us where the conditions are similar to those when the universe was much younger with lots of stars forming.
M82 is a starburst galaxy, where stars are forming at rates that are tens or even hundreds of times higher than in a normal galaxy. The burst of star birth may be caused by a close encounter or collision with another galaxy, which sends shock waves rushing through the galaxy. In the case of M82, astronomers think that a brush with its neighbor galaxy, M81, millions of years ago set off this torrent of star formation.