NASA telescope snaps photograph of a lurking black hole blanketed in stars


NASA has highlighted a new image snapped by its iconic Hubble Space Telescope, this time concentrating on the barred spiral galaxy known as NGC 5068.

NGC 5068 by Hubble

NGC 5068 by Hubble

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As the space agency explains in its blog post, NGC 5068 is a barred spiral galaxy that contains thousands of dense star-forming regions, with each region varying in age. NASA writes that these regions also contain various quantities of interstellar dust. As for location, NGC 5068 is approximately 20 million light-years from Earth and resides in the constellation Virgo.

An unmissable point of the image is the bright bar located at the top center. This region of space is densely packed with mature stars, and behind them is a black hole pulling all of the stars closer and closer together with its intense gravitational pull. The bright pinkish-red smudges or dots across the image are regions of space that contain ionized hydrogen gas or locations of young star clusters. Another nice find within this time is the existence of 110 Wolf-Rayet stars, which are a type of star that burns its fuel (loses mass) at a very high rate.

These stars are typically 25 times the mass of our Sun and are 1 million times more bright.

NGC 5068 is difficult to see with human eyes because it has relatively low surface brightness. Luckily, Hubble’s ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared capabilities helped capture the beauty and intrigue of this galaxy. Different cosmic objects emit different wavelengths of light; young and hot stars emit ultraviolet light, so Hubble uses ultraviolet observations to find them,” writes NASA

Webb has also imaged NGC 5068.

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