This star-filled sky from the Hubble Space Telescope is, to quote Coldplay, a heavenly sight.
This is a galactic image from the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, focusing on NGC 3631. The spiral arms of the “Grand Design Spiral”, as this object is dubbed, absolutely abound of birth of stars.
The color blue represents visible wavelengths of blue, and orange highlights infrared or heat-rich areas that are otherwise hard to see due to dust in the way.
Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images ever!
“Spiral star formation [galaxies] is similar to a traffic jam on the highway,” NASA said in a statement (opens in a new tab) about the new image on May 26.
“Like cars on the highway, the slower-moving matter in the disk of the spiral creates a bottleneck, concentrating gas and dust forming stars along the inner part of their spiral arms. This traffic jam of matter can become so dense that it gravitationally collapses, creating new stars – here seen in brilliant blue-white.”
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Located 53 million light-years from Earth, NGC 3631 is in the constellation Ursa Major and is one of many galaxies that Hubble officials have showcased in recent weeks.
Hubble’s galactic research includes areas such as learning about concentrations of dark matter, which help give clues to the overall structure of the universe, as well as galaxy collisions, scenarios and types of formation, according to a NASA page (opens in a new tab) showcasing telescope science.
“From supermassive black holes in galactic centers to giant star-forming outbursts to titanic collisions between galaxies, these discoveries allow astronomers to probe the current properties of galaxies and examine how they formed and developed over time. over time,” NASA said in the Science Explainer. .
Hubble’s 32 years of research in orbit will soon have a companion in deep space. The James Webb Space Telescope is completing its commissioning at Lagrange 2 to extend Hubble’s work even deeper into the universe.
“Galaxies show us how matter in the universe is organized on a large scale. In order to understand the nature and history of the universe, scientists study how matter is currently organized and how this organization has changed over the cosmic time,” NASA officials said. wrote (opens in a new tab) expected work from Webb, which will focus on the earliest galaxies in our universe.
Some of the Webbs Cycle 1 studies (opens in a new tab) for galaxies will focus on issues such as star formation, the first “low metallicity” galaxies (rich in hydrogen and helium), dwarf spheroidal galaxies and the famous satellite galaxy system of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31).