What’s 60 million light-years from Earth and looks absolutely incredible? The NGC 4571 spiral galaxy! Check it out in amazing detail, thanks to Hubble.
Spiral galaxies are among the most recognizable things in space, and using its Hubble telescope, NASA recently shared a stunning photo of one that’s millions of light-years from Earth. As the name implies, spiral galaxies are well-known for their spiral shape. They consist of large rotating disks made out of stars, gas, and space dust. This disk is dense in the center and spirals out to create ‘arms’ that extend far beyond it. Our home galaxy (the Milky Way) is a spiral galaxy, as are a “large fraction of all the galaxies in the local universe,” according to NASA.
While the foundation of spiral galaxies is largely the same for different ones, each galaxy has its own unique properties and characteristics that make it special. Just last week, NASA shared a Hubble photo of galaxy NGC 1097 — a large spiral galaxy that’s 48 million light-years from Earth. Hubble’s also spotted galaxies ‘dancing’ with each other, a galaxy that looks like it’s sailing through space, and one that eerily resembles the USS Enterprise.
If you’ve been itching for another Hubble sighting, you’re in luck! On Friday, March 25, NASA shared its latest Hubble image as part of its ‘Hubble Friday’ series. This latest one reveals a stunning spiral galaxy way off in the depths of space. We can clearly see the bright white center of the spiral galaxy and its long, spindly arms stretching out away from it. With visible hues of red, blue, and pink/purple throughout the arms, it’s a pretty amazing view.
What NASA Knows About This Spiral Galaxy
The galaxy you’re looking at is classified as spiral galaxy NGC 4571. It’s found in the Coma Berenices constellation and is a whopping 60 million light-years from Earth. While NGC 4571 looks big and imposing in this Hubble photo, it’s just one of over 1000 other galaxies found in the Virgo cluster. The Virgo cluster is part of the even bigger Virgo Supercluster, which contains at least 100 different galaxy groups — including the Local Group where the Milky Way lives.
To make this photo possible, NASA combined imaging data from Hubble and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (better known as ALMA). ALMA is a telescope with 66 ‘high-precision antennas’ and conducts its observations from the Chilean Andes. ALMA specializes in finding cool space dust and new stars, Hubble is great at seeing hot stars, and combining data from the two results in incredible pictures like the one above.
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