The incredible NASA picture features the most common type of galaxy seen through the vast cosmos. Much like our very own Milky Way, spiral galaxies are characterised by their rotation, spindly arms and central bulge. In this case, the Hubble Space Telescope photographed the galaxy NGC 2985 tens of millions of light-years away from our solar system. The beautiful rotating galaxy sits in the constellation Ursa Major or the Great Bear and is focused around a supermassive black hole at its centre.
The picture was made possible thanks to the joint work of the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA.
The ESA said: “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 away in the constellation Ursa Major – the Great Bear.”
The Hubble telescope is joint-operated by the US space agency and ESA.
Launched into low-Earth orbit (LEO) in 1990, the incredible instrument allows astronomers to peer into the farthest reaches of the visible universe.
Since the telescope’s mission began almost 30 years ago, the Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations of the space.
And the information gathered by Hubble has been published in more than 15,000 scientific papers and cited many times more.
In this particular case, the ESA said Hubble’s far-reaching gaze uncovered the intricate structures of the spinning galaxy.
The space agency said: “The intricate, near-perfect symmetry on display here reveals the incredible complexity of NGC 29885.
“Multiple tightly wound spiral arms widen as they whirl from the galaxy’s bright core, slowly fading and dissipating until these majestic structures disappear into the emptiness of the intergalactic space, bringing a beautiful end to their starry splendour.
“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 galaxies from when they came.”
Unfortunately, the colours in the photo are not “natural” since the space telescope only takes black and white colours.
However, NASA said the camera’s sensors filter our various colours in each photo to recreate their palette as accurately as possible.
NASA said: “The images are, indeed, downloaded as black and white, and colour is added for a number of different reasons — for example, to show the location of chemical elements and highlight features so subdued that the human eye cannot see them.”