Image: Hubble sees a spiral home to exploding stars

Apr 09, 2014
Credit: NASA, ESA, and S. Smartt (Queen's University Belfast), Acknowledgement: Brian Campbell

(Phys.org) —In this  Hubble image, we can see an almost face-on view of the galaxy NGC 1084. At first glance, this galaxy is pretty unoriginal. Like the majority of galaxies that we observe it is a spiral galaxy, and, as with about half of all spirals, it has no bar running through its loosely wound arms. However, although it may seem unremarkable on paper, NGC 1084 is actually a near-perfect example of this type of galaxy—and Hubble has a near-perfect view of it.

NGC 1084 has hosted several known as supernovae—explosions that occur when massive stars, many times more massive than the sun, approach their twilight years. As the fusion processes in their cores run out of fuel and come to an end, these stellar giants collapse, blowing off their outer layers in a violent explosion.

Supernovae can often briefly outshine an entire galaxy, before then fading away over several weeks or months. Although directly observing one of these explosions is hard to do, in galaxies like NGC 1084 astronomers can find and study the remnants left behind.

Astronomers have noted five supernova explosions within NGC 1084 over the past half century. These remnants are named after the year in which they took place—1963P, 1996an, 1998dl, 2009H, and 2012ec.

Explore further: Image: Hubble peers at the heart of NGC 5793

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Image: Hubble peers at the heart of NGC 5793

Mar 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —This new Hubble image is centered on NGC 5793, a spiral galaxy over 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Libra. This galaxy has two particularly striking features: a beautiful ...

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 catches stellar explosions in NGC 6984

Nov 08, 2013

Supernovae are intensely bright objects. They are formed when a star reaches the end of its life with a dramatic explosion, expelling most of its material out into space.

NGC 3344: Hubble sees galaxy in a spin

Oct 22, 2012

(Phys.org)—NGC 3344 is a glorious spiral galaxy around half the size of the Milky Way, which lies 25 million light-years distant. We are fortunate enough to see NGC 3344 face-on, allowing us to study its ...

Recommended for you

Image: Multicoloured view of supernova remnant

9 hours ago

Most celestial events unfold over thousands of years or more, making it impossible to follow their evolution on human timescales. Supernovas are notable exceptions, the powerful stellar explosions that make ...

Ultra-luminous X-ray sources in starburst galaxies

9 hours ago

Ultra-luminous X-ray sources (ULXs) are point sources in the sky that are so bright in X-rays that each emits more radiation than a million suns emit at all wavelengths. ULXs are rare. Most galaxies (including ...

When a bright light fades

9 hours ago

Astronomer Charles Telesco is primarily interested in the creation of planets and stars. So, when the University of Florida's giant telescope was pointed at a star undergoing a magnificent and explosive death, ...

Image: Horsehead nebula viewed in infrared

10 hours ago

Sometimes a horse of a different color hardly seems to be a horse at all, as, for example, in this newly released image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The famous Horsehead nebula makes a ghostly appearance ...

The Milky Way's new neighbour

10 hours ago

The Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, is part of a cluster of more than 50 galaxies that make up the 'Local Group', a collection that includes the famous Andromeda galaxy and many other far smaller objects. ...

User comments : 0

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.