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Hubble spies a spiral snowflake

Date:
May 13, 2016
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Together with irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies make up approximately 60 percent of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique -- like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust.
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The striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

Together with irregular galaxies, spiral galaxies make up approximately 60 percent of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique -- like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.

NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centers that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the sun.

As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionized gas are studded along its spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy.


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Materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble spies a spiral snowflake." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160513112132.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2016, May 13). Hubble spies a spiral snowflake. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160513112132.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble spies a spiral snowflake." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160513112132.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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