The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a magnificent image of a galaxy with an unusual form

The Hubble Space Telescope captured a new photo of a dwarf irregular galaxy called NGC 1156, located 25 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Aries. (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. B. Tully, R. Jansen, R. Windhorst)

A new image of an unusual galaxy features bright red "blossoms" of star formation. A new Hubble Space Telescope image shows NGC 1156, a dwarf irregular galaxy. NGC 1156, located 25 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Aries, is a "marvel of galactic morphology" with a distinctive structure, unlike most other galaxies. Its hundreds of blazing stars are reminiscent of a spiral galaxy, yet it lacks the typical 'winding' pattern. However, it emits a diffuse light, similar to an elliptical galaxy with its nucleus of older, redder stars, according to a statement from the European Space Agency (ESA), a project partner.

The gleaming red blooms strewn across the image reflect areas of strong star formation, which drives the galaxy's extraordinary activity. These young stars' ionized hydrogen gas outflows emit a crimson light. Spiral galaxies are distinguished by a core bulge composed of older, dimmer stars and encircled by a flat, spinning disk of hot young stars. While NGC 1156 has a tightly packed center with older generations of stars, its younger stars are not confined to the galaxy's signature spiral arms. Because it lacks a recognizable form, neither spiral nor elliptical, astronomers have classed NGC 1156 as a dwarf irregular galaxy.

However, the galaxy is categorized as solitary since no other galaxies are close enough to impact its unusual structure and ongoing star production. NGC 1156 had already been imaged by Hubble, but the new image was obtained as part of a program called Every Known Nearby Galaxy, which tries to fill a gap in galactic surveys.

Only three-quarters of the galaxies within 30 million light-years of Earth have been spotted in sufficient detail by Hubble to examine the nature of the stars within them, astronomers discovered. They recommended that Hubble capture images of the remaining quarter, including NGC 1156, in between larger projects. Gap-filling programs like this one guarantee that Hubble's valuable viewing time is maximized.

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