Space image: Spiral galaxy

December 19, 2011
Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

(PhysOrg.com) -- Resembling festive lights on a holiday wreath, this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the nearby spiral galaxy M74 is an iconic reminder of the impending season. Bright knots of glowing gas light up the spiral arms, indicating a rich environment of star formation.

Messier 74, also called NGC 628, is a stunning example of a grand-design spiral galaxy that is viewed by Earth observers nearly face-on. Its perfectly symmetrical emanate from the central nucleus and are dotted with clusters of young blue stars and glowing pink regions of ionized hydrogen ( that have lost their electrons). These regions of star formation show an excess of light at .

Tracing along the spiral arms are winding dust lanes that also begin very near the galaxy's nucleus and follow along the length of the spiral arms. M74 is located roughly 32 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Pisces, the Fish. It is the dominant member of a small group of about half a dozen galaxies, the M74 galaxy group. In its entirety, it is estimated that M74 is home to about 100 billion stars, making it slightly smaller than our Milky Way.

Explore further: Image: Pinwheel of star birth

Related Stories

Image: Pinwheel of star birth

October 19, 2010

Though the universe is chock full of spiral-shaped galaxies, no two look exactly the same. This face-on spiral galaxy, called NGC 3982, is striking for its rich tapestry of star birth, along with its winding arms.

Hubble captures image of the Arp 274 group of galaxies

August 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Arp 274, also known as NGC 5679, is a system of three galaxies that appear to be partially overlapping in the image, although they may be at somewhat different distances. The spiral shapes of two of these ...

Hubble's view of barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672

April 3, 2007

NGC 1672, visible from the Southern Hemisphere, is seen almost face on and shows regions of intense star formation. The greatest concentrations of star formation are found in the so-called starburst regions near the ends ...

A new, distant arm of the Milky Way galaxy

June 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Our Milky Way galaxy, like other spiral galaxies, has a disk with sweeping arms of stars, gas, and dust that curve around the galaxy like the arms of a huge pinwheel.

A spiral in Leo

August 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- This new picture from ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows NGC 3521, a spiral galaxy located about 35 million light years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). Spanning about 50 000 light-years, this ...

Akari's observations of galaxy M101

September 7, 2007

M101 is a spiral galaxy, 170 000 light-years in diameter. AKARI’s new observations reveal differing populations of stars spread across its spiral arms.

Recommended for you

Giant radio flare of Cygnus X-3 detected by astronomers

December 7, 2016

(Phys.org)—Russian astronomers have recently observed a giant radio flare from a strong X-ray binary source known as Cygnus X-3 (Cyg X-3 for short). The flare occurred after more than five years of quiescence of this source. ...

Dark matter may be smoother than expected

December 7, 2016

Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey, made with ESO's VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought. An international team ...

New evidence for a warmer and wetter early Mars

December 7, 2016

A recent study from ESA's Mars Express and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provides new evidence for a warm young Mars that hosted water across a geologically long timescale, rather than in short episodic bursts ...

Cassini transmits first images from new orbit

December 7, 2016

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn's atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn's northern hemisphere, including the planet's ...

ExoMars orbiter images Phobos

December 7, 2016

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has imaged the martian moon Phobos as part of a second set of test science measurements made since it arrived at the Red Planet on 19 October.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.