En el centro de la galaxia espiral NGC 3521

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Créditos de imagen: ESA/Hubble & NASA y S. Smartt (Queen’s University Belfast); Acknowledgement: Robert Gendler

sta enorme masa arremolinada de estrellas, gas y polvo se encuentra cerca del centro de una galaxia espiral cercana, la magnífica NGC 3521, que se encuentra a tan sólo 35 millones de años luz de distancia en la constelación Leo. Esta espectacular imagen, elaborada a partir de los datos del Telescopio Espacial Hubble, muestra la región central que abarca unos 50.000 años luz. En primer plano destacan los múltiples e irregulares brazos espirales característicos salpicados de polvo y cúmulos de estrellas jóvenes y azules. En contraste, la mayoría de espirales exhiben unos brazos muy extensos. NGC 3521, una galaxia relativamente brillante en el cielo de la Tierra, se puede observar fácilmente con telescopios pequeños, pero las cámaras de los aficionados suelen pasarla por alto en favor de otras galaxias espirales de Leo como M65 y M66.

Hubble Captures a Galactic Waltz

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This curious galaxy — only known by the seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers 2MASX J16270254+4328340 — has been captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope dancing the crazed dance of a galactic merger. The galaxy has merged with another galaxy leaving a fine mist, made of millions of stars, spewing from it in long trails.

A Hubble View of Starburst Galaxy Messier 94

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This image shows the galaxy Messier 94, which lies in the small northern constellation of the Hunting Dogs, about 16 million light-years away. Within the bright ring around Messier 94 new stars are forming at a high rate and many young, bright stars are present within it – thanks to this, this feature is called a starburst ring. The cause of this peculiarly shaped star-forming region is likely a pressure wave going outwards from the galactic centre, compressing the gas and dust in the outer region. The compression of material means the gas starts to collapse into denser clouds. Inside these dense clouds, gravity pulls the gas and dust together until temperature and pressure are high enough for stars to be born.

La nebulosa del Cangrejo desde el Hubble

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Este es el desastre que queda cuando estalla una estrella. La  nebulosa del Cangrejo es el resultado de una supernova formada por  enigmáticos filamentos . Estos filamentos no sólo son enormemente complejos sino que parece que tienen  menos masa que la expulsada en la supernova original y una  velocidad más alta de la prevista en una explosión libre. La  nebulosa del Cangrejo abarca unos 10 años luz . La  fotografía , tomada por el Telescopio Espacial Hubble , se presenta en tres colores escogidos por su  interés científico . En pleno centro de la nebulosa hay un  púlsar , es decir, una  estrella de neutrones más masiva que el  Sol pero con tan sólo el tamaño de una  pequeña ciudad . El  púlsar del Cangrejo gira unas 30 veces por segundo.

Dwarf Planet, Bright Spot

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Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS/DLR/IDA
Explanation: Now at Ceres, Dawn’s camera recorded this closer view of the dwarf planet’s northern hemisphere and one of its mysterious bright spots on May 4. A sunlit portrait of a small, dark world about 950 kilometers in diameter, the image is part of a planned sequence taken from the solar-powered spacecraft’s 15-day long RC3 mapping orbit at a distance of 13,600 kilometers (8,400 miles). The animated sequence shows Ceres’ rotation, its north pole at the top of the frame. Imaged by Hubble in 2004 and then by Dawn as it approached Ceres in 2015, the bright spot itself is revealed to be made up of smaller spots of reflective material that could be exposed ice glinting in the sunlight. On Saturday, Dawn’s ion propulsion system was turned on to spiral the spacecraft into a closer 4,350-kilometer orbit by June 6. Of course another unexplored dwarf planet, Pluto, is expecting the arrival of a visitor from Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft, by mid-July.

Hubble Views a Galaxy on Edge

A galaxy on the edge

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows an edge-on view of the spiral galaxy NGC 5023. Due to its orientation we cannot appreciate its spiral arms, but we can admire the elegant profile of its disk. The galaxy lies over 30 million light-years away from us.

NGC 5023 is part of the M51 group of galaxies. The brightest galaxy in this group is Messier 51, theWhirlpool Galaxy, which has been captured by Hubble many times. NGC 5023 is less fond of the limelight and seems rather unsociable in comparison — it is relatively isolated from the other galaxies in the group.

Astronomers are particularly interested in the vertical structure of disks like these. By analyzing the structure above and below the central plane of the galaxy they can make progress in understanding galaxy evolution. Astronomers are able to analyze the distribution of different types of stars within the galaxy and their properties, in particular how well evolved they are on the Hertzsprung–Russell Diagram — a scatter graph of stars that shows their evolution.

NGC 5023 is one of six edge-on spiral galaxies observed as part of a study using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. They study this vertical distribution and find a trend which suggests that heating of the disc plays an important role in producing the stars seen away from the plane of the galaxy.

In fact, NGC 5023 is pretty popular when it comes to astronomers, despite its unsociable behavior. The galaxy is also one of 14 disk galaxies that are part of the GHOSTS survey — a survey which uses Hubble data to study galaxy halos, outer disks and star clusters. It is the largest study to date of star populations in the outskirts of disk galaxies.

The incredible sharp sight of Hubble has allowed scientist to count more than 30,000 individual bright stars in this image. This is only a small fraction of the several billion stars that this galaxy contains, but the others are too faint to detect individually even with Hubble.

European Space Agency

Credit: ESA/NASA