Hubble Space Telescope Views Island Universe Messier 96

A very asymmetric galaxy resembling a titanic island universe of glowing gas and dark dust

This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Messier 96, a spiral galaxy just over 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is of about the same mass and size as the Milky Way. It was first discovered by astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1781, and added to Charles Messier’s famous catalogue of astronomical objects just four days later. The galaxy resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust that swirls inwards towards the nucleus. Messier 96 is a very asymmetric galaxy; its dust and gas is unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the galactic centre. Its arms are also asymmetrical, thought to have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96. This group, named the M96 Group, also includes the bright galaxies Messier 105 and Messier 95, as well as a number of smaller and fainter galaxies. It is the nearest group containing both bright spirals and a bright elliptical galaxy (Messier 105).
This new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows Messier 96, a spiral galaxy just over 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is of about the same mass and size as the Milky Way. It was first discovered by astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1781 and added to Charles Messier’s famous catalogue of astronomical objects just four days later. The galaxy resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust that swirls inwards towards the nucleus. Messier 96 is a very asymmetric galaxy; its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the galactic centre. Its arms are also asymmetrical, thought to have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96. This group named the M96 Group, also includes the bright galaxies Messier 105 and Messier 95, as well as a number of smaller and fainter galaxies. It is the nearest group containing both bright spirals and a bright elliptical galaxy (Messier 105).

Space news ( October 11, 2015) – 35 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Leo the Lion –

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently took this stunning image of Messier 96, a spiral galaxy approximately the same volume and mass as our Milky Way. First viewed by Pierre Mechain in 1781, this island universe is unusual in many aspects compared to other spiral galaxies. The gas and dust in the spiral arms of Messier 96 are unevenly spread, due at least partially to the gravitational influence of nearby galaxies in the Leo I Galaxy Group. The core of this asymmetric island universe is also slightly off center, a fact that has scientists scratching their heads and wondering, why?

You can view more images and learn more about Messier 96 here.

Learn and read about the Leo I Galaxy Group here.

Discover NASA’s mission to the stars here.

View the journey of the Hubble Space Telescope here.

Learn more about titanic collisions between galaxy clusters in Abell 1033.

Read about a magnetar discovered orbiting close to Sagittarius A.

Learn more about plans of Planetary Resources Inc. to mine as an asteroid.

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