Hubble captures sharp picture of 'barred spiral' galaxy
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Posted 03 February 2012 - 03:49 PM
The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a picture of a 'barred spiral' galaxy, NGC 1073 - studied by astronomers to learn more about our own celestial home, the Milky Way. Most spiral galaxies have a star-filled 'bar' in their centre - thought to emerge as gas is sucked towards the centre, supplying the material for new stars, and feeding a supermassive black hole.
The orbiting space telescope's image offers a particularly clear view of the bar structure in NGC 1073. Some astronomers believe that the formation of the central bar-like structure might signal a spiral galaxy’s passage from 'youth' and intense star-formation into 'adulthood'.
The bars turn up more often in galaxies full of older, red stars than 'younger' galaxies filled with newer, blue stars. Our own Milky Way galaxy is estimated to be 13.2 billion years old, nearly as old as the universe itself.
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