New Delhi: NASA's Hubble space telescope has caught numerous discoveries with its hawk-like eye, some of which, have turned out to be massive revelations and have helped scientists and astronomers alike in their efforts to better understand the universe.
Giving an informative insight into the evolution of the universe, Hubble has once again beamed back a stunner – a spiral galaxy named NGC 278.
Sitting pretty some 38 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia, also known as The Seated Queen, the galaxy may appear untroubled and calm, but as per NASA, that is far from the truth.
The image shows that, the galaxy is currently undergoing an immense burst of star formation. This flurry of activity is shown by the unmistakable blue-hued knots speckling the galaxy’s spiral arms, each of which marks a clump of hot newborn stars.
The American space agency further reports that, NGC 278’s star formation is somewhat unusual; it does not extend to the galaxy’s outer edges, but is only taking place within an inner ring some 6500 light-years across. This two-tiered structure is visible in this image — while the galaxy’s center is bright, its extremities are much darker.
This odd configuration is thought to have been caused by a merger with a smaller, gas-rich galaxy — while the turbulent event ignited the center of NGC 278, the dusty remains of the small snack then dispersed into the galaxy’s outer regions.
Whatever the cause, such a ring of star formation, called a nuclear ring, is extremely unusual in galaxies without a bar at their center, making NGC 278 a very intriguing sight.