Captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Area Telescope, the galaxy NGC 3344 presents itself face-on, permitting astronomers an in depth take a look at its intricate and chic construction. And Hubble’s capability to look at objects over a variety of various wavelengths reveals options that might in any other case stay invisible.
Spiral galaxies are a number of the most spectacular sights within the sky, however to an observer they don’t all look the identical. Some are seen edge-on, giving astronomers a superb thought of the galaxy’s vertical construction; others are seen at an angle, offering a touch of the dimensions and construction of the spiral arms; whereas others are seen face-on, showcasing their arms and shiny core in all their magnificence.
Roughly 20 million light-years away within the constellation of Leo Minor (the Lion Cub), NGC 3344 is seen from a panoramic face-on perspective. Half the dimensions of the Milky Manner, it’s labeled as a weakly barred spiral galaxy. The central bar is simply seen on this picture, taken with Hubble’s Large Discipline Digital camera 3: an elongated lane of stars, trailing by way of the nucleus of the galaxy. Astronomers estimate that two-thirds of all spiral galaxies are barred, together with our personal Milky Manner.
Hubble’s capability to look at celestial objects in numerous wavelengths permits us to see extra than simply the spiral arms sweeping out loosely across the centre in a stunning whorl. This picture is a composite of pictures taken by way of totally different filters, starting from the close to ultraviolet, to the optical and the near-infrared. Collectively they present a extra full image of the galaxy than the human eye alone may probably see.
The swirling spiral arms are the birthplace of latest stars, whose excessive temperatures make them shine blue, leading to them being simply identifiable on this picture. Clouds of mud and fuel distributed by way of the spiral arms — glowing purple on this picture — are reservoirs of fabric for much more stars. The brilliant jewel-like stars on the left of the image, nonetheless, are a lot nearer to Earth — they belong to our personal galaxy and simply occurred to photobomb this Hubble picture.
Whereas its face-on orientation reveals a lot about NGC 3344’s detailed construction, this galaxy continues to be enigmatic; astronomers have observed that a few of its outer stars are transferring in an odd method. Typically, the excessive focus of stars within the centre of a galaxy can have an effect on the actions of the outer stars, however this doesn’t appear to be the case in NGC 3344. Astronomers suspect that these weirdly behaving outer stars may very well have been stolen from one other galaxy, after a detailed encounter that happened way back.
The placement of NGC 3344 can also be intriguing. Our galaxy is a part of the Native Group, which is made up of roughly 40 different galaxies, with the Andromeda Galaxy being the biggest member. However NGC 3344 is just not a part of an area galactic neighbourhood like we’re. It’s truly a part of a small spur that leads off the bigger Virgo Supercluster — a gargantuan assortment of a number of thousand galaxies.
However it stands out from these 1000’s of galaxies due to its magnificence, which highlights to us the magnificence of the Universe.
Picture Credit score: ESA/Hubble, NASA
Clarification from: https://www.spacetelescope.org/information/heic1803/