Image: Hubble spots a stunning spiral

Image: Hubble spots a stunning spiral
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ho

Galaxies come in many shapes and sizes. One of the key galaxy types we see in the universe is the spiral galaxy, as demonstrated in an especially beautiful way by the subject of this Hubble Space Telescope image, NGC 2985. NGC 2985 lies over 70 million light-years from the solar system in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear).

The intricate, near-perfect symmetry on display here reveals the incredible complexity of NGC 2985. Multiple tightly wound widen as they whirl outward from the galaxy's bright core, slowly fading and dissipating until these majestic structures disappear into the emptiness of intergalactic space, bringing a beautiful end to their starry splendor.

Over eons, spiral galaxies tend to run into other galaxies, often resulting in mergers. These coalescing events scramble the winding structures of the original galaxies, smoothing and rounding their shape. These objects possess a beauty all their own, distinct from the spiral from whence they came.

Explore further

Citizen scientists re-tune Hubble's galaxy classification

Citation: Image: Hubble spots a stunning spiral (2019, July 19) retrieved 22 August 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jul 19, 2019
There are some very complicated issues of galaxy formation. Unfortunately, here is the same problem as with the stars. The origin of galaxies remains unclear, in spite of huge activity in the field. What the "formation" means? It means that we have the material that is assembling into galaxies.

Jul 19, 2019
And a very very expensive use of scarce resources. Question? There are literally thousands and thousands of Galaxies. How many of these expensive pictures would be sufficient?
ie: If it were equally expensive to photograph beautiful beach scenes how many of them would be sufficient in pursuit of meaningful knowledge that would justify such expense??

I suggest the moon and mars expense has clearly shown, that whatever "intellectual interest there may be in interspace travel" as a practical matter, that in the time frame of human life of something around 100 hundred years ..... inter space travel absent "science fiction warp speed" and existing in space for years in science fiction tv programs, without physical support of physical objects from earth is also fantasy. Having such creation power within the capabilities of any space ship would be an impossibly huge space ship that would take several life times of trips in orbit to assemble it.

Jul 19, 2019
rowland, you are considering these space images to be as meaningless as the average snapshots taken at a family holiday
however,the purpose of the space photos are not pretty pictures
but rather to collect previously unrealized data

every pixel has information to be analyzed. collated
adding to our general body of knowledge

when amnastrophysicist looks at the space photo?
every color & shade & absence imparts some meaning
here is methane & there is ammonia
that over there is probably dust
maybe carbon, maybe calcium?
& that anomalous gap means either something has happened we do not yet understand or maybe something new we do not have the technology to clearly resolve?

complaining about price?
what of value & worth?
there are a multitude of images
taken of planetary surfaces
you just have to search for those on the space sites where that material are archived

- cont'd -

Jul 19, 2019
- cont'd -
if the images you are viewing seem disappointing?
perhaps it's you?
do you understand what to expect?
there are plenty of local colleges where you can study astronomy
& learn the meaning of what you see

of course a cynic would claim those wise guy astronomers, realizing how their images stimulate public emotional zeal for the space programs
are taking advantage to protect & encourage further investments in space research

well, yeah!
smartly is as smartly does

if humans ever manage to survive deep space handicaps, enough to travel to Callisto?

"eyeballing" Jupiter will be a real shocker!
we will be expecting the pretty photos, chock-full-of scientific data

instead we will see this gargantuan blur of muddy colors looming above us like a giant wave crashing down on our heads
though i am hoping, speculating without proof
we will be even more impressed by "eyeballing" Jupiter's dark side
with spectacular displays of lightning storms & multiple aurora

Jul 20, 2019
@rowlandstevens, how many pretty pictures of the Earth does Google need? Enough to make a map of every place on Earth. Do we have a map of every galaxy in the cosmos? Then I guess we need to take more pictures.

Jul 20, 2019
Wow! Dig the abundance of molecular clouds!

Jul 20, 2019
so. russ
got anything more important
to do with your time?
than swinging that pick?
wielding that shovel?

Jul 20, 2019
One of the most incredible things I have ever seen in my telescope was when an older amateur astronomer had me hunt up the Triangulum Galaxy and while we were talking he told me that the splotches were giant molecular clouds like the Orion Nebula. I was amazed.

Jul 21, 2019
In my mind it's like a lollipop form that twists itself up. I mean the scale is such that it's difficult for me to not see it as a slowly-winding static wave, maybe frustrated inflows with a road-block in the middle, maybe the dynamics trail outwardly in surprisingly controlled manner for this level of centrally-applied twist. For the 1st time my start up screen suggested I wave at Andromeda today.

Jul 21, 2019
Notice how the spinning majesty of that spiral galaxy in the image above resembles the Nature of whirlpools, gyroscopes, plants such as sunflowers, bird's nests, old 45 and 78 RPM vinyl records, and most spiral-shaped spider webs? The heavenly spiral is also emulated in the wheels/tires/wagon wheels that enable objects to be carried long distances rather than dragging the object(s) by walking on foot as Native Americans had to do before Europeans from Spain brought horses to the "new world".Once the Native American aka Amerindians learned how to make wheels, they were able to move their possessions more easily.
Some copying of Nature is done by human ingenuity, such as gyroscopes and old vinyl record 'albums'. For compactness, the spiral galaxy can't be beat, although for tight compactness, the octagon shape would be superiour if space were at a premium. The octagon is also based on the shape of the circle and sphere. But the spiral is so much more beautiful.

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