Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2007 April 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1672
Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA) Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA);
Acknowledgment: L. Jenkins (GSFC/U. Leicester)

Explanation: Many spiral galaxies have bars across their centers. Even our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have a modest central bar. Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672, pictured above, was captured in spectacular detail in this recently released image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Visible are dark filamentary dust lanes, young clusters of bright blue stars, red emission nebulas of glowing hydrogen gas, a long bright bar of stars across the center, and a bright active nucleus that likely houses a supermassive black hole. Light takes about 60 million years to reach us from NGC 1672, which spans about 75,000 light years across. NGC 1672, which appears toward the constellation of the Swordfish (Dorado), is being studied to find out how a spiral bar contributes to star formation in a galaxy's central regions.

Tomorrow's picture: Omega Cen

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