Hubble Captures Magnificent Grand Spiral Galaxy Face-On

NGC 3631

Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 3631, the Grand Design Spiral, located about 53 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Filippenko (University of California – Berkeley), and D. Sand (University of Arizona); Image Processing: G. Kober (NASA Goddard/Catholic University of America)

This image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope features the Grand Design Spiral, NGC 3631, located approximately 53 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major. The “arms” of grand design spirals appear to wind around and into the galaxy’s nucleus.

In contrast to multi-arm and flocculent spirals, which have softer structural elements, a grand design spiral galaxy has obvious and well-defined spiral arms. A grand design galaxy’s spiral arms stretch clearly across the galaxy through many radians and may be seen over a considerable proportion of the galaxy’s radius.

Close inspection of NGC 3631’s grand spiral arms reveals dark dust lanes and bright star-forming regions along the inner part of the spiral arms. Star formation in spirals is similar to a traffic jam on the interstate. Like cars on the highway, slower-moving matter in the spiral’s disk creates a bottleneck, concentrating star-forming gas and dust along the inner part of their spiral arms. This traffic jam of matter can get so dense that it gravitationally collapses, creating new stars (seen here seen in bright blue-white).

The image uses data collected from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The color blue represents visible wavelengths of blue light, and the color orange represents infrared light.

6 Comments on "Hubble Captures Magnificent Grand Spiral Galaxy Face-On"

  1. Interesting.

    1.We must have a whole lot of images captured over the years by Hubble Telescope and others across a range of known spectrum over time.
    2. Can we translate and enable the description of images in Mathematical terms with multiple co-ordinates and defined shapes of things we have observed in Nature? This can become the base database.
    3. Then, can we use Pattern Recognition Software to see what are the mathematical equivalents we are observing in the images captured using Hubble and other telescopes as we keep refining Telescope Technology to make it peer further out and obtain clearer images.?
    4. What I am recommending is the Rosetta Stone of Images to be built?

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

    • Databases have to be huge … like on the order of many thousands, for that kind of numerical analyses to identify new underlying features of the dataset that are otherwise hidden. I suspect in another 20 years or so the size of the dataset of known galaxies with clearly defined digitized features will be large enough where that kind of analysis would be useful. I think at the present moment however we’re just depending on the combined brainpower of astronomers the world around to ascertain those features, which is probably the best approach at the moment. No doubt, as the dataset increases to do that numerical analysis, so will computing power and AI development.

  2. Stephen Grossman | May 31, 2022 at 7:13 am | Reply

    2000 light-years from home.
    -Rolling Stones

  3. Snowball Solar System | May 31, 2022 at 6:53 pm | Reply

    Some day Andromeda Galaxy will fill the night sky from horizon to horizon in the greatest show on Earth.

  4. fibonacci sequence or spiral ,

  5. I am continuously amazed at the beauty of the natural world.

    From the math of flower blooms and complex mineral crystals at arm’s length right here at home to Jupiter and the local galaxy’s many complex features to the millions of galaxies across the known universe, beauty is everywhere around us, no matter how far or how closely we look! Amazed!

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