Hubble’s Close-Up of Spiral’s Disk, Bulge


Dec. 20, 2019

Hubble image of galaxy IC 2051

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows IC 2051, a galaxy in the southern constellation of Mensa (the Table Mountain) lying about 85 million light-years away. It is a spiral galaxy, as evidenced by its characteristic whirling, pinwheeling arms, and it has a bar of stars slicing through its center.

This galaxy was observed for a Hubble study on galactic bulges, the bright round central regions of spiral galaxies. Spiral galaxies like IC 2051 are shaped a bit like flying saucers when seen from the side; they comprise a thin, flat disk, with a bulky bulge of stars in the center that extends above and below the disk. These bulges are thought to play a key role in how galaxies evolve, and to influence the growth of the supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of most spirals. While more observations are needed in this area, studies suggest that some, or even most, galactic bulges may be complex composite structures rather than simple ones, with a mix of spherical, disk-like, or boxy components, potentially leading to a wide array of bulge morphologies in the universe.

This image comprises data from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 at visible and infrared wavelengths.

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

Last Updated: Dec. 20, 2019

Editor: Rob Garner

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December 22, 2019 10:34 pm

Whenever I look at such photos I wonder whether we should start looking at objects out in the universe on the basis that they are convecting phenomena with matter moving away from the gravitational centre of a static universe in some locations and towards it in others.
The consequent pressure and density differentials would produce swirling storms in space which would contain clumps of matter with rotation such as galaxies. It would even produce strings of galaxies as observed.
On that basis we would not need to propose dark matter or dark energy.
Nor would we need black holes at galactic centres since the motive force would be provided by those density variations around a galaxy rather than having to propose energy just vanishing at the centre.
There would be a red shift within regions moving away from the centre whilst expanding and a blue shift for regions moving towards the centre whilst contracting.
Lots of observations would fall more neatly into place.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
December 22, 2019 11:10 pm

The real problem that is apparent is not that there may be Dark Matter making galactic discs rotate faster than they should from visible matter. How do we account for the arms rotating at nearly the same velocity as the central bulge/bar?

Did God screw-up and make a blooper in galactic mechanical cosmology?

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 22, 2019 11:50 pm

To get the centre rotating at much the same speed as the arms you just need a very small pressure gradient between centre and arms in a convective phenomenon.
For convective storms within an atmosphere it is the steepness of the pressure gradient that determines the speed differential between centre and periphery.
Given the scale of space and the distances between galaxies a small pressure gradient would appear to be the case.
The universe appears to have a lot more gaseous material in the vast spaces between clumps of matter than used to be thought. Accordingly, we can validly treat it as a ball of gas with fluid characteristics within an uneven gravity field.
Convective phenomena would be inevitable in that scenario.
So, we actually have a Static Convecting Universe ?
Would solve a lot of problems.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
December 23, 2019 12:08 am


Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 23, 2019 12:17 am

I don’t like the term ‘aether’ because you don’t need anything more than matter plus gravity as long as the bonds between the particles of matter are loose enough to allow fluid motion when the gravity field is uneven.
The astrophysicists who took over climate science failed to acknowledge the effects of convection within atmospheres
It would be amusing if they made the same mistake in astrophysics.
I can’t see how convection could be avoided within the universe as a whole yet it is completely absent from all current theories.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 23, 2019 1:09 am

To be clear, I don’t like aether … either.

Just when talk turns to “lots of unseen matter stuff” between stars” ????
… it begs the question?????
Were the ancients that wrong? They didn’t know what a photon was either.

So… unseen stuff and it affects gravity and light… so aether?
Are we hung up on out-of-favor semantics?

Will it take some brash, 20-something year old genius, not wedded to old thinking, to show us the way forward again?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 23, 2019 7:18 am

Might “Dark Matter” be the modern terminology for what was previously called aether?

Clay Marley
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 23, 2019 7:46 am

The idea of aether was an entirely reasonable hypothesis. When we discover light travels as waves, and since all waves are just modulations of a medium (i.e. sound waves, water waves, stadium waves), then the idea light travels through a medium follows. So we design clever experiments to detect the presence of the medium, fail to observe it, and pronounce it doesn’t exist.

But then we create dark energy and dark matter, pronounce they exist, but cannot be observe them.

Perhaps dark matter is the aether we’ve been looking for.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 24, 2019 11:14 am

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Weylan McAnally
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
December 23, 2019 12:58 pm

My high school classmate is an astrophysicist at CalTech. VERY smart guy. Recently he and I had a discussion concerning the Ideal Gas Law and how it applied in interstellar space. Our discussion centered around how, due to deep space probes, we now know quite a bit about the boundary where our Sun’s influence ends.

He asserts that the Ideal Gas Law is fully applicable in space despite the distance between the atoms and the very weak gravity fields. Applying the IGL to galaxies makes sense.

Eric Simpson
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
December 23, 2019 2:36 am

@Stephen Wilde “density differentials would produce swirling storms in space … as galaxies”

Well, it’s true, most galaxies look almost exactly like storms.

And storms aren’t created by gravity. Nor do you need the fudged up dark matter to explain storms.

Plus look at the large scale structure of the universe. It looks almost exactly like .. the brain’s neural network. It’s uncanny. Too much of an almost exact correspondence to be “just a coincidence.”

Reply to  Eric Simpson
December 23, 2019 3:01 am

Storms wouldn’t form without the density differentials created by uneven heating within a gravity field.
The large scale structure reminds me of the patterns in different types of clouds.
Like most patterns in nature they are fractal which includes neurological systems.

Bryan A
Reply to  Eric Simpson
December 23, 2019 10:03 am

Does that make us simply amoebic parasites living on the neural network in the great universal gray dark matter?

Joel O'Bryan
December 22, 2019 11:05 pm

Speaking of “bulge morphologies,” with Christmas season at hand (a reference to our fossil fuel-enabled, indulgent,too easy over-eating vegetable and meat 🍗 diet this time of year)…..

Merry Christmas ✝️ and Happy Hanukah ✡️!!! to all.

And may that jolly Fat Guy (not Al Gore) from the ice-covered North Pole bring you and your family much tidings of cheer in these days ahead.
The decade of 2010’s has been quite interesting (“May you live interesting time,” yes we are.). Can’t wait for what’s next.

And onward to the Roaring 20’s!!! Bring it!
Frack on.
Energy Dominance 2.0.

Merry Christmas WUWTers!
From a quite comfortable Southern Arizona,

Coeur de Lion
December 22, 2019 11:53 pm

Matt Ridley in the Spectator says humankind has never had a better decade

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
December 23, 2019 12:22 am

As far as I can tell, humans are the one species that can comprehend its very good luck and be grateful for it. Hallelujah!

Steve B
December 23, 2019 1:58 am

Or is could just be a characteristic of the Electric Universe.

The SAFIRE Project.

December 23, 2019 4:50 am

I cannot even begin to comprehend 85 million light years. That distance is too far for me to fathom.

Linda Goodman
December 23, 2019 6:17 am

Hubble gets images of far-away galaxies, why no newer, better shots of our own solar system? Not by Hubble of course, but most planetary images have changed little in the last few decades, isn’t that odd? I mean, they’re not called Never A Straight Answer for nothing.

December 23, 2019 7:20 am

Wonder what it looks like now.

Carl Friis-Hansen
December 23, 2019 8:53 am

A battery rocket may need a few recharges to go this distance of 8E23 meter (85E6 light years).
I am baffled that it is possible to get such a distant image. This begs a question: Has Hobble taken any images of the Moon? If not maybe the light would be too bright.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 23, 2019 12:23 pm

As I.recall, the optical imager in Hubble is too sensitive to take a picture of something as bright as the Moon. The filters on board can’t reduce the intensity enough to keep the imager from burning out.

kevin drum
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 23, 2019 8:07 pm
Bryan A
December 23, 2019 10:17 am

Light travels 5,161,812,480,000,000 fathoms per year
OR… 14,141,952,000,000 fathoms per day
OR… 589,248,000,000 fathoms per hour
OR… 9,820,800,000 fathoms per minute
OR… 163,680,000 fathoms per second
OR… 5,456,000 fathoms in the time it takes your mind to refresh the visual signals it is receiving.
Still kind of hard to fathom though

December 23, 2019 11:45 am

Looks like the center of IC 2051 is starting to elongate — the beginning of a bar formation. A sign that some gas and dust previously ejected from the center area long ago has finally begun to slowly find its way back toward the center area. The Milky Way has a more developed bar. Some spirals have a bar the length of most of the galaxy’s diameter, like this one:
comment image?w=900

J Mac
December 23, 2019 12:31 pm

“Deep in unfathomable mines. Of never failing skill. He treasures up His bright designs. And works His sov’reign will.”

A very Merry Christmas to All, WUWT!

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