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.
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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