Hubble traps galactic fireflies

Nov 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.

Explore further: 'Eye of Sauron': Using supermassive black holes to measure cosmic distances

Related Stories

A spiral galaxy in Hydra

Apr 09, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 4980, a spiral galaxy in the southern constellation of Hydra. The shape of NGC 4980 appears slightly deformed, something which is ...

Hubble spots a colorful lenticular galaxy

Nov 12, 2012

(Phys.org)—The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a beautiful galaxy that, with its reddish and yellow central area, looks rather like an explosion from a Hollywood movie. The galaxy, called NGC ...

Hubble sees the needle galaxy, edge-on and up close

Jul 16, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This image snapped by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals an exquisitely detailed view of part of the disc of the spiral galaxy NGC 4565. This bright galaxy is one of the most famous ...

Hubble sees a spiral within a spiral

May 28, 2012

(Phys.org) -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the spiral galaxy known as ESO 498-G5. One interesting feature of this galaxy is that its spiral arms wind all the way into the center, so ...

Spitzer captures infrared rays from a sunflower

Mar 04, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The various spiral arm segments of the Sunflower galaxy, also known as Messier 63, show up vividly in this image taken in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared light is ...

Recommended for you

A colorful gathering of middle-aged stars

17 hours ago

NGC 3532 is a bright open cluster located some 1300 light-years away in the constellation of Carina(The Keel of the ship Argo). It is informally known as the Wishing Well Cluster, as it resembles scattered ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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
2 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2012
btb, technology has advanced such that ground based telescopes can surpass Hubble in quality. In this era of tightening purses, we can't just keep bleeding money everywhere.

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?

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.