Hubble Image of the Week – Hidden Galaxy IC 342

Hubble Views the Hidden Galaxy

Hubble Space Telescope image of IC 342, also known as the Hidden Galaxy. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

This Hubble image of the week shows “Hidden Galaxy” IC 342, which is located 11 million light-years away.

IC 342 is a challenging cosmic target. Although it is bright, the galaxy sits near the equator of the Milky Way’s galactic disc, where the sky is thick with glowing cosmic gas, bright stars, and dark, obscuring dust. In order for astronomers to see the intricate spiral structure of IC 342, they must gaze through a large amount of material contained within our own galaxy — no mean feat! As a result, IC 342 is relatively difficult to spot and image, giving rise to its intriguing nickname: the “Hidden Galaxy.”

Located very close (in astronomical terms!) to the Milky Way, this sweeping spiral galaxy would be among the brightest in the sky were it not for its dust-obscured location. The galaxy is very active, as indicated by the range of colors visible in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, depicting the very central region of the galaxy.

A beautiful mixture of hot, blue star-forming regions, redder, cooler regions of gas, and dark lanes of opaque dust can be seen, all swirling together around a bright core. In 2003, astronomers confirmed this core to be a specific type of central region known as an HII nucleus — a name that indicates the presence of ionized hydrogen — that is likely to be creating many hot new stars.

2 Comments on "Hubble Image of the Week – Hidden Galaxy IC 342"

  1. michael leboeuf | July 4, 2017 at 7:03 am | Reply

    I Think It’s Fabulous Photo’s The Hubble Takes , i Have Been Collecting Photo Now For Over 3 To 5 Years , Using Them For My Screen Savor All The Photo’s I Have Are Marvelous , Spectacular , Awesome , Specially Photo Of Jupiter And Saturn Oh And The Rover On Mars I Truly Think That Is Super Great , And What Would Be Amazing If That One Could touch The Sun Please Keep The Photo’s Coming They Are All Awesome

  2. There are some very complicated issues of galaxy formation. Unfortunately, here is the same problem as with the stars. The origin of galaxies remains unclear, in spite of huge activity in the field. What the “formation” means? It means that we have the material that is assembling into galaxies.

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