June 8 (UPI) — A new Hubble image, shared this week by NASA, offers one of the best views yet of the nearby active galaxy IC4870.
The galaxy is nicely framed by foreground stars and background stars. In the middle, positioned 28 million light-years from Hubble’s lens, is IC 4870.
The active galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy, which boast extremely bright nuclei, similar to quasars. They are some of the most luminous objects in the sky. Surrounding the bright center are streaks of electric blue gas, molecular clouds fueling the births of new stars.
Hubble has imaged IC 4870 as part of previous surveys of nearby active galaxies — galaxies that are actively forming new stars — but has yet to produce such a clear and captivating photo of the galaxy.
By imaging the active nuclei of nearby galaxies, scientists can better understand how galaxies evolve.
“Astronomers can observe the traces of collisions and mergers, central galactic bars, nuclear starbursts, jets or outflows, and other interactions between a galactic nucleus and its surrounding environment,” according to NASA. “Images such as this can help astronomers understand more about the true nature of the galaxies we see throughout the cosmos.”
IC 4870 was first discovered by DeLisle Stewart in 1900. Because Seyfert galaxies have such bright centers — centers that can outshine the rest of the galaxy — they’re not always easy to image. By observing the galaxy in its complete electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, Hubble can reveal the galaxy’s unique details.