Hubble Spots Stunning Spiral Galaxy


May 3, 2019


Few of the universe’s residents are as iconic as the spiral galaxy. These limelight-hogging celestial objects combine whirling, pinwheeling arms with scatterings of sparkling stars, glowing bursts of gas, and dark, weaving lanes of cosmic dust, creating truly awesome scenes — especially when viewed through a telescope such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. In fact, this image from Hubble frames a perfect spiral specimen: the stunning NGC 2903.

NGC 2903 is located about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (the Lion), and was studied as part of a Hubble survey of the central regions of roughly 145 nearby disk galaxies. This study aimed to help astronomers better understand the relationship between the black holes that lurk at the cores of galaxies like these, and the rugby-ball-shaped bulge of stars, gas and dust at the galaxy’s center — such as that seen in this image.

Text credit: ESA (European Space Agency)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ho et al.

Last Updated: May 3, 2019

Editor: Rob Garner

64 thoughts on “Hubble Spots Stunning Spiral Galaxy

  1. The roughly equally spaced purple lights suggest some kind of galactic scale process.

    • It’s a barred spiral. The two arms are traced by the ‘purple lights’, regions of star formation dominated by hot blueish stars and luminous gas clouds, you can follow them going all the way around. The current understanding is that the spiral pattern arise from galaxy wide shockwaves propagating through the gas triggering star formation.

      • There would seem (to me) two rings, side by side. Sort of like the symbol for infinity. Hmmmm.

        • I expect the rugby ball shape really means that we’re viewing it slightly from above (or below), so that the apparent distance from ‘top to bottom’ only seems shorter than ‘right to left.’

  2. Gets back to the old question about how can the Universe ever end. Because if you come to say a kind of fence, then what is on the other side.

    It also raises the big question, “Where does the Christian God fit into this magnificent display of Nature””

    MJE VK5ELL .

      • And it isn’t just the “Christian” God. The Christian, Jewish and Muslim God don’t differ in essence.

        You don’t have to be a practicing member of any religion to believe in God. Simple logic leads to it, along with a small dose of humility.

        • Even the so-called politheistic religions are in essence monotheistic. The unity or oneness of the divine is an important topic in Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian, Greek, and other polytheistic traditions.

        • Christian and Jewish yes. Only someone who knows anything about Christianity/Judiasm and Islam could say there is any relationship between them.

          • See De Cusa Critias Alkorani, for a detailed comparison. De Cusa, the founder of modern science.

        • Don’t need any God to be humble in front of the forces of Nature and its infinite depths.

          I think it is important to learn to leave one’s beliefs at the door of Science.

          • The Universe is God.
            God is the Universe.
            (– as in the philosophical sense of strong AI)

          • I think it is important to learn to leave one’s beliefs at the door of Science.

            Science could not exist unless there was an underlying foundation of universal constants, logic and reason. Therefore science requires faith in a discoverable and knowable system.

        • How can logic prove the existence of a fairy tale god or, even worse, the god in three persons?

          Thomas Aquinas tried and had to assert that there had to be a god because there was no other explanation for the physical world he could observe around him. Quite a nonsequitor.

          And where does your god live? The Hubble deep space probe has penetrated some 13 billion light years into space. There is no god floating into sight in the images taken.

          And where is your heaven?

          Science has in the last 100 years destroyed all proofs of a god. The stupidity of humanity is that some still believe in fairy tales.

    • The ongoing and ever intensifying public-relations campaign of science to sell itself to the public and stress its glory with false color imaging, dimensional exaggerated maps, artists impressions, over simplifications and imagery that only exist in the eyes and processing power of machines – it is a theatrical show on a par with the religious mythology of old.

      • True, Jurgen, though the color isn’t totally fake. They can use color filters to get light bands, process them into colors, then combine them to approximate color.

        ‘This study aimed to help astronomers better understand the relationship between the black holes that lurk at the cores of galaxies like these’

        Rilly? What did they learn? They are telling us that what they do is really, really important. I don’t want them to stop, but please spare me the theatrics.

      • The color in this image isn’t fake, but it does have the green channel set low. The core is too red, and the active regions should be more blue than purple. There’s nothing wrong with adjusting color levels to create a beautiful image or to enhance certain aspects of the object. Or taking longer exposures in one channel over another, such as R over G, because more structures may be revealed in the hydrogen bands of the red channel. They probably do much of their their analytical science with the calibrated raw data which in greyscale wouldn’t look very interesting to the public.

        The high resolution image of this is very impressive. That’s a lot of detail for something 30 million light years away.

        • False not meaning fake for me, “false color” is an expression used in science, and in presenting imagery most of the time “enhancing techniques” are fairly indicated by scientists. Nothing wrong there. Also, mythology is there for a reason. There is a timeless dimension in proper mythology that fascinates me. So I don’t use in a negative sense. Beautiful image, happy to see it. For me it was about the “God” question and the easy lure into “mythological” use, or abuse, of science.

      • Jurgen,
        Well said.
        I am heartily sick and tired of seeing astronomical pictures that purport to be real, natural colour, images when they are not.
        Not saying that they shouldn’t be published, but they should be VERY clearly labelled:
        e.g. false colour image, artist’s impression, enhanced contrast photo, etc.

    • I would argue God is Nature by another name. What ever activities are described as acts of God are in fact random acts of Nature.
      I am not a religious person, but I firmly believe in the power of Nature.

      • Another Fibonacci sequence? Like a nautilus shell. Science and religion are one. I think Steven Hawking said he wasn’t religious, but there are 48 references to God in his “Brief History of Time”. At these extremes, it is the same territory. Accompanied by the same corruptions I guess, like the devotees of the Climate Faith extolling “The Science …” like it is the Nicene Creed. At least you don’t your head chopped off for failing to recite it. Not yet anyway …

  3. NGC 2903 seems younger than our old home, the disordered beauty of youth on display.

  4. A word palindrome construction,..



    Spinning lazily 
Through boundless space. 

    Earth and sea,  
Birth and death 
Defines universe 

    And universe defines 
Death and birth,  

    Sea and earth. 

    Space boundless 

    Through lazily spinning 

    • Love it, thanks for sharing! Copied it to my (digital) copybook, next to those short first palindromes of human history:
      Madam, I’m Adam
      Sir, I’m …Iris.

  5. We have a meteor shower event to occur tomorrow morning (Australian Eastern Standard Time). Hope skies are clear and I am awake.

  6. Thank you for posting that stunning photo of NGC2903. I was in a grumpy, grumpy mood most of the weekend. That photo removed the grumpies from me.

    Thank you!

  7. Just a test to see how long it takes from posting a comment to it appearing.
    Time of post 13:23 BST

    • Name analysis: Passfield sounds English as well as Harry a popular name.
      But I can’t figure out where in the world the B is associated.

      Dang, puzzling.

      • I think that the time the post button is clicked is retained, and is not related to how long it takes for the comment to appear.

  8. Trying to guess BST. Barrier (reef) Standard Time.
    Bahaman/Bahrain/ Berkfordshire/Belguim/Balinese/Baffin Island
    Brasilian or some local dutch time Brabant Standard?

    perhaps it is a type and b is next to V or N, NST, VST hmm..
    makes no sense.

    Hmm… I am clueless on where the BST could be.
    And I don’t want to look it up.
    Anyone else NOT from BST area have a clue as to its name and location?

    • In less than the time it took to type this, a world time zone map shows British Summer Time, which is UTC+1

      • Unfortunate that my comment was lost on you,@Dave Snope, and others. A puzzle, a curious search, really. Never had heard of BST and was trying, within the scope of my own head, to figure it out its meaning. Not wanting to resort to google, yahoo or any other search.

        Inquiring as to the nature of the B. (total bombed the ST portion.)

        Then tried to figure out how a name Harry and Passfield would help. Highly english but missed the idea of Summer Time. Seems to coloquial actually.

        But back to my point. It is sometime hard to communique through writing….but I was not interested in the actual fact to be presented in less than a minute, was more interested in the puzzle as to what the heck BST could possible mean since I am over 60 years old, lived in 4 countries and had never heard of it. Hence the reason for the opening line: “Trying to guess BST.”

        But thanks for quickly assuming, I am an idiot that actually might need to use (if you don’t know take a look.) instead of taking the time to read
        what was written. Perhaps this is the source of a great number of issues in society.
        Assumptions … the other guys an idiot, but pehaps I am assuming here and you were just pointing out that fast answers are better than thinking?

        • TS

          Good thing you didn’t get defensive about Dave Snope helping you.

          No good deed goes unpunished.

  9. Love the construction of words instead of letters. Thanks for sharing. I have copied it, next to those short first palindromes of human history:
    – Madam. I’m Adam.
    – Sir, I’m… Iris.

      • Actually Adamhadm isn’t a palindrome. It doesn’t read the same way forward and backward. I believe it’s a poem by Ogden Nash, “On the Antiquity of Microbes”: Adam
        Had ’em
        I believe he also wrote “On the Efficacy of Aphrodisiacs”: Candy’s dandy
        But liquor’s quicker

  10. There are something like a hundred billion galaxies we can see. We can only see back about 14 billion years with photons. Before the CMB the universe is opaque, supposedly from too many free electrons. Maybe someday we can use neutrinos to see further back…

  11. I love the images from Hubble.

    I figure that if you’re going to spend billions on a government boondoggle, at least spend the money on things like the Hubble Telescope, where you actually get something for all the money.

  12. Thank you!
    My morning is markedly brightened by the stunning image of that awe-inspiring barred spiral galaxy!

  13. Spiral galaxies can be beautiful, but I think there are better and more beautiful examples than this one. The Messier series has several. For example, M31 (NGC 224)–our sister galaxy, is quite beautiful. And then there are these:

    M51 (NGC 5194),
    M61 (NGC 4303),
    M66 (NGC 3627),
    M74 (NGC 628),
    M83 (NGC 5236),
    M88 (NGC 4501),
    M99 (NGC 4254),
    M100 (NGC 4321),
    M101 (NGC 5457),
    M106 (NGC 4258), and
    M109 (NGC 3992).

    IMO. all rank higher on the spiral galaxy beauty scale.


  14. Thirty million light years away. This is like one of those bare-bottom-on-a-bear-skin-rug shots that your mother loved to show to your new girlfriend. I mean who knows what it looks like now, thirty million years later? No, not your butt. I’m talking about the galaxy.

  15. Today’s magnificent photos of the Universe are the modern equivalent of the Stained glass windows of the old cathedrals.

    Whirl I am not a spiritual person I do find the windows of these old
    churches quite magnificent, although they were of course meant to confirm the faith to the largely uneducated masses.

    Regarding Galaxies, my favourite is still Andromeda.


    • My favorite shot is the Crab Nebula – all 1 light-years (66 trillion+ miles) wide.

      I have that as my desktop & have figured out that our 8B mile diameter solar system is about 1 pixel on my screen.

  16. This galaxy’s in Leo. Some people don’t know why Leo’s not visible all around the year.

  17. The Universe is God.
    God is the Universe.
    (– as in the philosophical sense of strong AI)

Comments are closed.