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Another grand galaxy imaged by Hubble

NGC 3631
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, reduced to post here, was released today and is one in what has become a steady string of recent and quite spectacular galaxy images produced by scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope. From the caption:

This image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope features the Grand Design Spiral, NGC 3631, located some 53 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major. The “arms” of grand design spirals appear to wind around and into the galaxy’s nucleus.

Close inspection of NGC 3631’s grand spiral arms reveals dark dust lanes and bright star-forming regions along the inner part of the spiral arms. Star formation in spirals is similar to a traffic jam on the interstate. Like cars on the highway, slower moving matter in the spiral’s disk creates a bottleneck, concentrating star-forming gas and dust along the inner part of their spiral arms. This traffic jam of matter can get so dense that it gravitationally collapses, creating new stars (here seen in bright blue-white).

This spiral follows the classic shape of these whirlpool galaxies. The Milky Way, though also a spiral, is now thought to be a barred spiral, whereby the galaxy’s whirlpool shape is distorted by a large straight bar of stars crossing its center.

Scientists also released today a second photo from Hubble of a different spiral galaxy, which you can check out here.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.


The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.
 

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

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