NASA telescope captures ‘face-on’ view of a cosmic monster in deep space

The iconic Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in operation for more than 30 years, has captured a stunning view of a distant spiral galaxy.

IC 5332

IC 5332


NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has pointed its old, yet still extremely powerful instruments at the spiral galaxy known as IC 5332, which resides approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth within the constellation Sculptor. The European Space Agency (ESA) notes that IC 5332’s orientation is almost “face-on” to Earth, which may not make sense at first, but imagine if a spiral galaxy was a large disk or a circular plate.

From Earth’s perspective, the spiral galaxy appears to be completely circular, which is how astronomers determine if Earth is “face-on” to the astronomical object they are attempting to observe. If the spiral galaxy appeared flat, it would mean Earth is looking at it from the side-on – the same as if you were to look at a plate side-on.

IC 5332 is designated as an SABc-type galaxy in the De Vaucouleurs system of galaxy classification. The ‘S’ is straightforward, identifying it as a spiral galaxy, which it clearly is, given the well-defined arms of bright stars and darker dust that curl outwards from the galaxy’s dense and bright core. The ‘AB’ is a little more complex. It means that the galaxy is weakly barred, which refers to the shape of the galaxy’s centre,” writes the ESA

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