Hubble Captures Galactic Glamour Shot


Oct. 2, 2020

Hubble Captures Galactic Glamour Shot

spiral galaxy NGC 5643 with a bright, barred center and vaguely purplish swirling arms

This stunning image by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features the spiral galaxy NGC 5643 in the constellation of Lupus (the Wolf). Looking this good isn’t easy; 30 different exposures, for a total of nine hours of observation time, together with the high resolution and clarity of Hubble, were needed to produce an image of such high level of detail and beauty.

NGC 5643 is about 60 million light-years away from Earth and has been the host of a recent supernova event (not visible in this latest image). This supernova (2017cbv) was a specific type in which a white dwarf steals so much mass from a companion star that it becomes unstable and explodes. The explosion releases significant amounts of energy and lights up that part of the galaxy.

The observation was proposed by Adam Riess, who (alongside Saul Perlmutter and Brian Schmidt) was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics in 2011 for his contributions to the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Text credit: ESA (European Space Agency)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Riess et al.; acknowledgment: Mahdi Zamani
Last Updated: Oct. 2, 2020Editor: Rob Garner

41 thoughts on “Hubble Captures Galactic Glamour Shot

  1. That telescope has been really an incredible “bang for one’s buck”.

    What’s the brown smoky, marbling effect?

    • Wild guess:
      Bodies, dust and gas slightly changing the opacity.

      Nice photo by the way.

      When Hubble came out with the fist images, we were a few saying it was a waste of money and effort, but now I would not complain.

      • …it was a waste of money and effort…

        In the grand scheme of things, what isn’t?

        I remember one day at Silverstone they interviewed George Harrison over the Tannoy system between practice runs and asked him “what he thought of Formula One?”

        “It’s a fantastic way to waste money”

    • you might be referring to the diffraction spikes from the struts that support the telescope’s secondary mirror. This occurs in reflector type telescopes, or camera zoom lenses that use diaphragm blades to stop down the lens. They are messy in this composite image because (apparently) the telescope was rotated at different angles when taking different images.

    • Dumb guess…Stars within our own Galaxy that were between the camera and the target galaxy. The nearer stars are merely out of focus compared to the target.

      • Nope. Since all the objects in the image are essentially infinitely distant from the camera, everything you see is in focus.

    • They are local stars – in our galaxy between earth and the spiral galaxy. The dust clouds are in the Milky Way as well.

    • Can be due to the telescope. Newtonian type telescopes, there are several flavours, form a diffraction cross caused by the arms holding the secondary mirror. I don’t know if this is so on the hubble.

    • If you mean the bright stars that have rays coming from them, those are stars in our galaxy, each much brighter than the big galaxy in the image. The rays are diffraction caused by the four arms supporting the telescope secondary mirror. The reason for so many rays is that the image is a composite of 6 images taken at different times, when the galaxy was in different rotations compared to the arms.

  2. Many think the Milky Way looks very similar to this w/the prominent bar. Some of the dust and gas that was expelled very early on in the galaxy’s history VERY slowly makes it’s way back along the bar toward the center.

      • That doesn’t disprove the existence of a black hole in the center. It just means it’s surrounded by visible matter, hence, you can’t see it.

      • The bright center is an indication of a black hole that has gases being spiraled into it which causes heating of the gases. There could be more than one black hole.

        • Interesting. So no black holes have ever been “observed” as being black? They are just assumed to be within very bright areas at centers of galaxies? They emit no special signatures of radiation that are unique to their super density?

          • very bright areas at centers of galaxies

            Bright areas of galaxy centers w/stars very closely orbiting an enormous mass….

  3. Dark matter and black holes are imaginary so that astronomers could make sense of what they see.
    It is not necessarily so. There are other explanations.

    • I am certainly not qualified to make definitive statements about such things, but I am convinced that there are good arguments for AND against the Big Bang and black holes. It’s not “settled” at all, and I suspect that a lot of scientists are going to be disappointed in how their beliefs about such things might be completely wrong. We’ll see.

    • No, there are not “other explanations” for black holes.

      Dark matter conceptions are theories to explain differences between observations and stellar theory.
      We have observed evidence for black holes.
      Conflating “black holes” and “dark matter” is false science.

      You can believe whatever you choose.
      Dismissing what is observed and explained by physics surrenders to all belief, sans science.

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