Science and Exploration

Hubble Sets Sights on a Galaxy with a Bright Heart

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 21, 2018
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Hubble Sets Sights on a Galaxy with a Bright Heart
NGC 5033

This image shows galaxy NGC 5033’s spiral arms, dotted with blue clusters of hot, young stars still forming, while older, cooler stars populate the galaxy’s center causing it to appear redder.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this closeup of spiral galaxy NGC 5033, which lives about 40 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs). The galaxy is similar in size to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, at just over 100,000 light-years across.

Unlike our Milky Way, NGC 5033 is missing a central bar. Instead, it has a bright and energetic core called an active galactic nucleus, powered by a supermassive black hole. This active nucleus gives it the classification of a Seyfert galaxy. Due to the ongoing activity, the core of NGC 5033 shines brightly across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. This released energy shows that the central black hole is currently devouring stars, dust and gas getting close to it.

While its relative proximity to Earth makes it an ideal target for professional astronomers to study its active nucleus in more detail, its big apparent size in the night sky and its brightness also make it a beautiful target for amateur astronomers.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt Larger image

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.