Press Release

NASA/ESA Hubble Images Majestic Cousin of the Milky Way

By SpaceRef Editor
August 5, 2004
Filed under , ,
NASA/ESA Hubble Images Majestic Cousin of the Milky Way

Our Sun and solar system are embedded in a broad pancake of stars
deep within the disk of the Milky Way galaxy. Even from a distance, it
is impossible to see our galaxy’s large-scale features other than the

The next best thing is to look farther out into the universe at galaxies
that are similar in shape and structure to our home galaxy. Other spiral
galaxies like NGC 3949, pictured in the Hubble image, fit the bill. Like
our Milky Way, this galaxy has a blue disk of young stars peppered with
bright pink star-birth regions. In contrast to the blue disk, the bright
central bulge is made up of mostly older, redder stars.

NGC 3949 lies about 50 million light-years from Earth. It is a member
of a loose cluster of some six or seven dozens of galaxies located in
the direction of the Big Dipper, in the constellation Ursa Major (the
Great Bear). It is one of the larger galaxies of this cluster.

This image was created from Hubble data taken with the Wide Field
Planetary Camera 2 in October 2001. Separate exposures through
blue, visible, and near-infrared filters have been combined to make the
natural color picture. This image was produced by the Hubble Heritage
Team (STScI).

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)
Acknowledgment: S. Smartt (The Queen’s University of Belfast)

NOTE TO EDITORS: For additional information, please contact
Dr. Keith Noll, Hubble Heritage Team, Space Telescope Science
Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, (phone)
410-338-1828, (fax) 410-338-4579, (e-mail)

Electronic images and additional information are available at

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is operated by
the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.
(AURA), for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, MD. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project
of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space
Agency (ESA).

SpaceRef staff editor.