Hubble's View of Galaxy NGC 3621

©STSCI

NGC 3621

This Hubble Picture of the Week is dedicated to the over 200 000 Facebook fans of ESA/Hubble, who share our passion for the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the discoveries it brings.


We thank you for staying in touch with us!

The image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows part of NGC 3621, an unusual spiral galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Water Snake).

The small, bright nucleus on the right of the image does not have the significant bulge of older stars that is common in spiral galaxies, marking NGC 3621 as a "pure-disc" galaxy. Many luminous clumps of blue young stars are scattered along the loose spiral arms, which are partially obscured by the dark dust lanes snaking across the frame. This galaxy is very useful for astronomers; some of its brightest stars can be used to estimate extragalactic distances, allowing us to measure the vast scale of the Universe.

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Claude Cornen. The Hubble Space Telescope is the astronomers' tele-lens; a wider view of this galaxy was obtained with ESO's Very Large Telescope (potw1148a), and a wide-angle image with the Wide-Field Imager (WFI) at ESO's La Silla Observatory (eso1104). Just as for normal landscape photography, different lenses - or telescopes, in this case! - are used depending on what the photographer wants to shoot.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgement: Claude Cornen

Larger images

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.