Hubble spies a serpentine spiral

Hubble spies a serpentine spiral
ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Walsh; Acknowledgment: R. Colombari

The lazily winding spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 5921 snake across this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy lies approximately 80 million light-years from Earth, and much like our own galaxy, the Milky Way, contains a prominent bar—a central linear band of stars. Roughly half of all spiral galaxies may contain bars. These bars affect their parent galaxies by fueling star formation and influencing the motion of stars and interstellar gas.

Given NGC 5921's serpentine spiral arms, it seems fitting that the galaxy resides in the constellation Serpens in the northern celestial hemisphere. Serpens is the only one of the 88 modern constellations with two unconnected regions—Serpens Caput (Serpent's Head) and Serpens Cauda (Serpent's Tail). Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, separates these two regions.

The scientific study behind this image also came in two parts—observations from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and observations from the ground-based Gemini Observatory. The two telescopes helped astronomers better understand the relationship between galaxies like NGC 5921 and the they contain. Hubble's contribution determined the masses of stars in the galaxies. Hubble also took measurements that helped calibrate the observations from Gemini. Together, Hubble and Gemini provided astronomers with a census of nearby supermassive black holes in a diverse variety of galaxies.

Citation: Hubble spies a serpentine spiral (2022, April 11) retrieved 16 June 2024 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.

Explore further

Image: Hubble snaps a stunning spiral's side


Feedback to editors