NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope has beamed back an astonishing image of a spiral galaxy located a hundred million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster). The beautiful galaxy has separated the dark space in two parts with its high concentration of bright stars.
Dubbed as NGC 1032, the galaxy is actually a spectacular spiral galaxy, but from Earth, the galaxy’s vast disk of gas, dust and stars is seen nearly edge-on. Scientists at the US space agency believe that the beautiful image perhaps does not do justice to the galaxy’s true aesthetic appeal.
A handful of other galaxies can be seen lurking in the background, scattered around the narrow strip of NGC 1032. Many are oriented face-on or at tilted angles, showing off their glamorous spiral arms and bright cores. Such orientations provide a wealth of detail about the arms and their nuclei, but fully understanding a galaxy’s three-dimensional structure also requires an edge-on view. This gives astronomers an overall idea of how stars are distributed throughout the galaxy and allows them to measure the “height” of the disk and the bright star-studded core.
The Hubble space telescope was launched in 1990 and since then it is the largest telescope in space. HST has helped scientists in exploring the deepest corners of the universe and has beamed back millions of stunning shots in its entire career. However, HST will be replaced by the James Webb Telescope in 2018 as it has thrice larger lens when compared to HST.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, in Washington, D.C.