Finding strange galaxies in space is just another day for NASA’s Hubble telescope, and in this latest one, it gets an amazing glimpse at the ‘eye’ of a galaxy. For all the accomplishments under NASA’s belt, it’s safe to say that Hubble’s one of the most impressive. The nearly 32-year-old telescope has provided invaluable information about the universe’s age, given astronomers a better understanding of our Solar System, and captured hundreds of jaw-dropping photos all along the way.
Every Friday, NASA highlights Hubble’s prowess with a new photo from the telescope. Sometimes it’s a picture of a faraway galaxy, and other times it’s a mystifying space nebula. Whatever the subject is, Hubble usually captures it in incredible detail. So far this month, NASA’s shared Hubble photos of a baby star throwing a ‘tantrum’ and two galaxies hiding a huge secret in plain sight.
Related: This Hubble Photo Of A Baby Star Throwing A ‘Stellar Tantrum’ Is Crazy
With another Friday upon us, that means it’s time for another Hubble picture to drool over. NASA shared the latest picture (shown above) on March 18. As usual, it’s quite a sight to behold. The photo showcases a large spiral galaxy with gigantic arms stretching out across the universe. Among the beautiful red and blue colors is a bright white center at the heart of the galaxy. As the title suggests, it looks like you’re staring right into the galaxy’s eye.
How Hubble Captured This Stunning Photo
The galaxy you’re looking at is known by astronomers as NGC 1097. It’s a barred spiral galaxy and resides 48 million light-years away from Earth. For some context, Pluto — the furthest ‘planet’ from Earth in our Solar System — is roughly 0.000628 light-years away. As NASA explains, “This picture reveals the intricacy of the web of stars and dust at NGC 1097’s center, with the long tendrils of dust seen in a dark red hue.” This particular Hubble photo is so detailed because it was captured with not one but two of Hubble’s cameras.
More specifically, this picture was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and its Advanced Camera for Surveys. NASA took those two photos to collect as much data as possible, applied filters to the galaxy’s wavelengths to mimic how they’d look to the human eye, and the end result is what you see above. It’ll be a long time before humans ever have the chance of seeing galaxies like NGC 1097 for themselves (assuming that ever becomes possible), but until then, photos like this are the next best thing.
And they’re about to get even better! NASA recently shared the first photo from the new James Webb Space Telescope to prove just how powerful it really is. It’s unclear if James Webb will ever get the chance to look at NGC 1097, but any subjects it does examine should be clearer and more detailed than what Hubble’s ever been capable of. That’s not to harp on Hubble at all, but if you’re even remotely interested in space photos like this, it’s a pretty exciting time to be alive.