Nasa’s 31-year-old Hubble Space Telescope has made another incredible discovery — it has found a “lopsided” spiral galaxy that has been deformed by the gravitational tug of another nearby galaxy. NASA has shared the stunning image of the galaxy called “NGC 2276”, which is located in the constellation Cepheus, about 120 million light-years away from the Earth. In the image, dust of blue stars surrounds the yellowish core just like the scene from the Avengers: Age Of Ultron movie when the AI Ultron attacks and tries to swallow another AI Jarvis developed by Tony Stark, aka Iron Man.
NASA said the spiral galaxy looks a bit lopsided because of the “galactic game of tug-of-war”. “A neighbouring galaxy is gravitationally tugging on its disk of blue stars, pulling the stars on one side of the galaxy outward,” NASA captioned the post on Instagram.
In a statement on its website, NASA said that a bright hub of older yellowish stars normally lies directly in the centre of most spiral galaxies, and added ”but the bulge in NGC 2276 looks offset to the upper left”.
“In reality, a neighbouring galaxy to the right of NGC 2276 (NGC 2300, not seen in the image) is gravitationally tugging on its disk of blue stars, pulling the stars on one side of the galaxy outward to distort the galaxy’s normal fried-egg appearance,” said NASA. This gravitational pull between galaxies that pass close enough is not uncommon in the universe, but all such close encounters look differently.
Commenting on the image on Instagram, a user, Ilaibaah, wrote, “That’s the most gigantic tug of war I’ve seen.”
“Is that other galaxy the main cause of those blue stars,” asked a person with the username Geejay1976.
Another user, Astro.nor, said that the colour of a star was due to its temperature. “Blue stars are hotter, red stars are cooler (but still very, very hot),” the user added.
A spiral galaxy is a twisted collection of hot young stars and gas. Most of the galaxies that scientists have discovered, roughly 72 per cent of all the galaxies, are spiral, as opposed to elliptical and irregular galaxies. Our Milky Way is an example of a spiral galaxy.
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. To celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope in April this year, NASA had released a celebratory image of one of the brightest stars in our galaxy, named AG Carinae, located approximately 20,000 light-years away.
Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has made more than 1.4 million observations as it has an “unobstructed view” of the universe, according to NASA.