galaxies

Gaze Into the Heart of a Grand Spiral Galaxy

Here’s Hubble doing what Hubble does best.

Some of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most famous and stunning images are of distant galaxies, and this one is drop-dead gorgeous too.

This new image features the Grand Design Spiral, NGC 3631, which is located about 53 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major.

The “arms” of grand design spirals appear to wind around and into the galaxy’s nucleus.

A ‘Grand Design’ spiral galaxy is a type of spiral galaxy with prominent and well-defined spiral arms. The arms of this galaxy look as though they are winding around and spiraling out from the galaxy’s center, like a classic spiral galaxy. Other spiral galaxies might have multiple arms or be more “flocculent” or fluffy. But about 10% of spiral galaxies are considered Grand Design Spirals.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Filippenko (University of California – Berkeley), and D. Sand (University of Arizona); Image Processing: G. Kober (NASA Goddard/Catholic University of America)

Take a closer look at NGC 3631 and you can see bright star forming regions along the inner part of the spiral arms, and the new stars show up as a bright blue (remember the old astronomical adage: new and blue, red and dead.)

The image includes data taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Lead image caption: Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Filippenko (University of California – Berkeley), and D. Sand (University of Arizona); Image Processing: G. Kober (NASA Goddard/Catholic University of America)

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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