New Hubble Image of a Spectacular “Barred” Galaxy & Brilliant Quasars

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The Hubble space telescope has captured an image of a "barred spiral" galaxy, NGC 1073 in the Cetus constellation, that could hrlp unlock clues to the Milky Way. Most of the known spiral galaxies fall into the"barred" category – defined by the pronounced bar structure across their center, which may be an indication of a galaxy's age. The star-filled bars are thought to form as gravitational density waves channel gas towards the center of the galaxy, creating new stars and possibly also feeding a supermassive black hole lying there.


Two-thirds of nearby, younger galaxies have the bar, while only a fifth of older, more distant spirals have it. Astronomers believe that the ibright source in X-ray light IXO-5 source is actually a "binary" system comprising a star and a black hole in mutual orbit. This galaxy is also well-known due to its line-of-sight towards three brilliant quasars (shown below), billions of light-years further away. Their tremendous energy comes from matter heating up and falling into supermassive black holes at their hearts.

The new image, taken with the NASA/ESA space telescope, shows remarkable detail in its spiral arms. You can also see many far more distant galaxies showing up in the background. In the top left of the image can be seen a rough ring-like structure of recent star formation that hides the bright source of X-rays IXO 5, which marks the position where the supermassive black hole and  star are orbiting each other.

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