Hubble traps galactic fireflies

November 18, 2012
Credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble

(Phys.org)—Luminous galaxies glow like fireflies on a dark night in this image snapped by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The upper central galaxy in this image is a gigantic elliptical galaxy designated 4C 73.08. A prominent spiral galaxy seen from "above" shines in the lower part of the image, while examples of galaxies viewed edge-on also populate the cosmic landscape.

In the optical and near-infrared light captured to make this image, 4C 73.08 does not appear all that beastly. But when viewed in longer wavelengths the galaxy takes on a very different appearance. Dust-piercing radio waves reveal plumes emanating from the core, where a supermassive black hole spews out twin jets of material. 4C 73.08 is classified as a radio galaxy as a result of this characteristic activity in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Astronomers must study objects such as 4C 73.08 in multiple wavelengths in order to learn their true natures, just as seeing a firefly's glow would tell a scientist only so much about the insect. Observing 4C 73.08 in visible light with Hubble illuminates galactic structure as well as the ages of constituent stars, and therefore the age of the galaxy itself. 4C 73.08 is decidedly redder than the prominent, bluer in this image. The elliptical galaxy's redness comes from the presence of many older, crimson stars, which shows that 4C 73.08 is older than its spiral neighbor.

The image was taken using Hubble's 3 through two filters: one which captures green light, and one which captures red and near-infrared light.

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7 comments

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btb101
4 / 5 (8) Nov 18, 2012
Personally, i do not care how much Hubble costs to maintain. With images such as these, the benefit to science far outweighs the cost of keeping her going.

This amazing telescope might be old, outdated and almost at the end of her life, but the science world will be stupid to let such a tool end just because of money.

verkle
Nov 18, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
cantdrive85
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2012
Replace Hubble with the two space telescopes the NSA recently gave NASA. Why have one when you can have two at triple the cost.
boater805
2 / 5 (4) Nov 19, 2012
Personally, i do not care how much Hubble costs to maintain. With images such as these, the benefit to science far outweighs the cost of keeping her going.

This amazing telescope might be old, outdated and almost at the end of her life, but the science world will be stupid to let such a tool end just because of money.


Facinating. Exactly WHAT "science" other than a pretty picture are "images such as these" providing?
Shinichi D_
3 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2012

Facinating. Exactly WHAT "science" other than a pretty picture are "images such as these" providing?


More than your comment.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (5) Nov 19, 2012
"Dust-piercing radio waves reveal plumes emanating from the core, where a supermassive black hole spews out twin jets of material."

Once again, growing from within, not from without.

Go ahead, mark me down. Soothe your mental discomfort, and reinforce your intellectual ego. It will save you from re-examining your faulty worldview. Egomaniacs abound. Some take refuge in science.
lengould100
5 / 5 (3) Nov 19, 2012
And some must settle for flooding websites like this with nonsense, eh Tuxford?

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