NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a photo of a stunning spiral galaxy, the latest such image to make its way across the internet.
The U.S. space agency announced Friday that the telescope has captured an image of a “barred spiral” galaxy that could help us better understand our own Milky Way. The image reportedly closely resembles our own Milky Way galaxy, providing astronomers with a comparable galaxy to study. The galaxy is located 55 million light-years away in the constellation of Cetus.
Astronomers say the image could yield new information concerning our own galaxy, including how dark matter and dark energy impact the shape and the galaxy composition. In a statement released by the U.S. space agency, astronomers noted that the image reveals that much of the light emitted by the nearby galaxy comes not from stars, but rather from quasars.
“In fact they are not stars at all. They are quasars, incredibly bright sources of light caused by matter heating up and falling into supermassive black holes in galaxies literally billions of light-years from us,” Hubble researchers explained. “The chance alignment through NGC 1073, and their incredible brightness, might make them look like they are part of the galaxy, but they are in fact some of the most distant objects observable in the universe.”
The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project by NASA and the European Space Agency. It has been snapping amazing photos of the universe since its launch in 1991.
The latest image comes as NASA has increasingly turned to Hubble in an effort to study various galaxies. Earlier this month, NASA officials announced that our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets, citing data collected by the telescope. In addition, NASA astronomers, using the space telescope, solved a longstanding mystery on the type of star, or so-called progenitor, that caused a supernova in a nearby galaxy.