A galaxy with an unconventional shape is striking for its bright red "blossoms" of star formation.
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of the dwarf irregular galaxy NGC 1156. In a statement, the European Space Agency (ESA), a partner of the mission, described NGC 1156 as a "marvel of galactic morphology," located 25 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Aries.
"Its thousands of bright stars evoke a spiral galaxy, but it lacks the characteristic 'winding' structure," ESA officials wrote in the statement releasing the new Hubble image on Aug. 22. "Yet it also radiates a diffuse glow, much like an elliptical galaxy and its core of older, redder stars."
Star formation fuels the galaxy's extreme energy, as evidenced by the shining red blossoms scattered across the photo. These young stars emit a red glow from their ionized hydrogen gas outflows.
There is typically a bulge at the center of spiral galaxies made up of older, dimmer stars surrounded by a flat, rotating disk of hot young stars. In spite of NGC 1156's densely-packed center, its younger stars are not contained in the spiral arms encircling the galaxy. Astronomers have classified NGC 1156 as a dwarf irregular galaxy because it lacks either a spiral or elliptical shape.
The statement also states that the galaxy is isolated because no other galaxies are close enough to influence its odd shape and ongoing star formation.
The new image was captured as part of a program called Every Known Nearby Galaxy, which aims to fill a gap in galactic observations. Hubble previously photographed NGC 1156.
"Astronomers noticed that only three-quarters of the galaxies within just over 30 million light-years of Earth had been observed by Hubble in sufficient detail to study the makeup of the stars within them," according to the ESA statement. "They proposed that in between larger projects, Hubble could take snapshots of the remaining quarter — including NGC 1156. Gap-filling programs like this one ensure that the best use is made of Hubble's valuable observing time."
QUESTION: Does Hubble still have a useful future?
Or are we simply patronising the former #1?
Let us know and keep thrusting Australia into the deep unknown…