Monday, March 06, 2023

A Meandering Spiral Galaxy: NGC 5486 | Hubble

A Meandering Spiral Galaxy: NGC 5486 | Hubble

The irregular spiral galaxy NGC 5486 hangs against a background of dim, distant galaxies in these images from the NASA/European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope. The tenuous disc of the galaxy is threaded through with pink wisps of star formation, which stand out from the diffuse glow of the galaxy’s bright core. NGC 5486 lies 110 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major.

Image Description: A spiral galaxy. It is irregularly-shaped and its spiral arms are difficult to distinguish. The edges are faint and the core has a pale glow. It is dotted with small, wispy, pink regions where stars are forming. A few stars and small galaxies in warm colours are visible around it.

Constellations are not only patterns of bright stars, but also a system that astronomers use to divide the sky into regions. There are 88 of these regions, and each has an associated constellation depicting a mythological figure, an animal, or even an item of scientific equipment. This strange celestial menagerie contains everything from Ursa Major’s great bear to a toucan, a sea monster, a telescope, and even a painter's easel!

This observation comes from a selection of Hubble images exploring the detritus left behind by Type II supernovae. As massive stars reach the end of their lives they cast off huge amounts of gas and dust before ending their lives in titanic supernova explosions. NGC 5486 hosted a supernova in 2004, and astronomers used the keen vision of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys to explore the aftermath in the hopes of learning more about these explosive events.

Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)/Hubble & NASA, C. Kilpatrick

Release Date: March 6, 2023

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