Hubble observes the serpentine spiral of NGC 5921

(ORDO NEWS) — The lazy spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 5921 swirl in this image taken by NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

This galaxy is about 80 million light-years from Earth and, like our own Milky Way galaxy, contains a prominent bar, a central linear band of stars.

Approximately half of all spiral galaxies may contain bars. These bands influence the host galaxies, fueling star formation and influencing the movement of stars and interstellar gas.

Given NGC 5921’s serpentine spiral arms, it seems fitting that the galaxy is in the constellation Serpens in the northern celestial hemisphere.

Ophiuchus is the only one of the 88 modern constellations that has two unrelated regions – Serpens Caput (Snake’s head) and Serpens Cauda (Snake’s tail). Ophiuchus separates these two regions.

The scientific study of this area also consisted of two parts – observations using the Hubble Wide Field Camera and the ground-based Gemini Observatory.

The two telescopes have helped astronomers better understand the relationship between galaxies like NGC 5921 and the supermassive black holes they contain.

Hubble’s contribution made it possible to determine the masses of stars in galaxies. Hubble also made measurements that helped calibrate the Gemini observations.

Together, Hubble and Gemini provided astronomers with a census of nearby supermassive black holes in a wide variety of galaxies.


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