How incredible is this photo?? This galaxy is the universe’s version of a hot mess. Roughly a quarter of galaxies don’t take on any recognizable shape; they are known as irregular galaxies. Most galaxies rock a crazy spiral or elliptical structure – but not NGC 5408, which is located about 16 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur).
The photo above was taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Launched in 1990, Hubble has traveled over 3 billion miles around Earth, made 1.2 million observations, and snapped pics of locations more than 13.4 billion light years from our planet. I’ve collected a few amazing photos taken by Hubble. Enjoy! ✨
Hubble snapped this view of a colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of a giant star cluster. The image reveals a small region inside the massive globular cluster Omega Centauri. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
The graceful, winding arms of the majestic spiral galaxy M51 (NGC 5194) appear like a grand spiral staircase sweeping through space. They are actually long lanes of stars and gas laced with dust. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
This dramatic image offers a peek inside a cavern of roiling dust and gas where thousands of stars are forming. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes appear in this image of the Orion Nebula. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Saturn is seen here in ultraviolet light. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Composed of gas and dust, the pillar resides in a tempestuous stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302)! What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit – due to a dying star. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Hubble peered into a small portion of the nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074 in this 18th anniversary image. The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
The Hubble Deep Field surveys will likely be thought of as Hubble’s most lasting science legacy. These observations continue to supply a wealth of understanding about the universe as a whole, Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
The starburst galaxy is remarkable for its bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
This snapshot of MyCn18, a young planetary nebula, reveals that the object has an hourglass shape with an intricate pattern of “etchings” in its walls. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Astonomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered surprising new information regarding a massive, one-of-a-kind star, whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. The star’s new nickname, ‘Nasty 1,’ is a play on its official catalog name, ‘NaSt1’ – because the rapidly aging star is just that weird.
Nasty 1 was originally identified as a Wolf-Rayet star when it was first discovered several decades ago. Wolf-Rayet stars are incredibly hot, massive stars (20x larger than our sun) with a high rate of mass loss – some believe they represent a final burst of activity before a huge star begins to die.
The thing is, Nasty 1 doesn’t look like your usual Word-Rayet star. Astronomers expected to see twin lobes of gas flowing from opposite sides of the star. Instead, they saw a pancake shaped disc of gas encircling the star that is nearly 2 trillion miles wide! This disc could be the result of a binary interaction – which there are very few examples of in the galaxy because this phase is so short-lived.
The Team’s Scenario:A massive star evolves very quickly, and as it begins to run out of hydrogen, it swells up. Its outer hydrogen envelope becomes more loosely bound and vulnerable to gravitational stripping, or a type of stellar cannibalism, by a nearby companion star. In that process, the more compact companion star winds up gaining mass, and the original massive star loses its hydrogen envelope, exposing its helium core to become a Wolf-Rayet star.
But the mass transfer process in mammoth binary systems isn’t always efficient. Some of the stripped matter can spill out during the gravitational tussle between the stars, creating a disk around the binary.
“That’s what we think is happening in Nasty 1,” Mauerhan said. “We think there is a Wolf-Rayet star buried inside the nebula, and we think the nebula is being created by this mass-transfer process. So this type of sloppy stellar cannibalism actually makes Nasty 1 a rather fitting nickname… what evolutionary path the star will take is uncertain, but it will definitely not be boring”
The team’s results will appear May 21 in the online edition of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.