Press Release

Hubble Views Warped Galaxy as Camera Passes Milestone

By SpaceRef Editor
August 2, 2001
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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has imaged an unusual edge-on galaxy,
revealing remarkable details of its warped dusty disk and showing how
colliding galaxies trigger the birth of new stars.

The image, taken by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), is
online at http://heritage.stsci.edu and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/wfpc.
The camera was designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif. During observations of the galaxy, the camera passed a
milestone, taking its 100,000th image since shuttle astronauts installed it
in Hubble in 1993.

The dust and spiral arms of normal spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way, look
flat when seen edge- on. The new image of the galaxy ESO 510-G13 shows an
unusual twisted disk structure, first seen in ground-based photographs taken
at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. ESO 510-G13 lies in the
southern constellation Hydra, some 150 million light-years from Earth.
Details of the galaxy’s structure are visible because interstellar dust
clouds that trace its disk are silhouetted from behind by light from the
galaxy’s bright, smooth central bulge.

The strong warping of the disk indicates that ESO 510-G13 has recently
collided with a nearby galaxy and is in the process of swallowing it.
Gravitational forces distort galaxies as their stars, gas, and dust merge
over millions of years. When the disturbances die out, ESO 510-G13 will be a
single galaxy.

The galaxy’s outer regions, especially on the right side of the image, show
dark dust and bright clouds of blue stars. This indicates that hot, young
stars are forming in the twisted disk. Astronomers believe star formation
may be triggered when galaxies collide and their interstellar clouds are
compressed.

The Hubble Heritage Team used WFPC2 to observe ESO 510-G13 in April 2001.
Pictures obtained through blue, green, and red filters were combined to make
this color-composite image, which emphasizes the contrast between the dusty
spiral arms, the bright bulge, and the blue star-forming regions. Additional
information about the Hubble Space Telescope is online at
http://www.stsci.edu. More information about the Wide Field and Planetary
Camera 2 is at http://wfpc2.jpl.nasa.gov.

The Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md., manages space
operations for Hubble for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
The institute is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in
Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Md. Hubble is a project of international cooperation
between NASA and the European Space Agency. JPL is a division of the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

SpaceRef staff editor.