Spiral in a glittering galaxy

NASA/ESA Hub­ble

A spi­ral galaxy peeps through a sparkling array of stars in this image of ESO 318–13 from the NASA/ESA Hub­ble Space Telescope.

Explore the daz­zling spray of stars and far-off galax­ies; take in the objects near and far. What shapes or sto­ries do you see? Leave a note in the com­ments below.

Galax­ies after all are mostly empty space. Light-years sep­a­rate stars and if dark dust clouds don’t obscure the view, the galax­ies become mostly trans­par­ent allow­ing dis­tant back­ground galax­ies to shine through.

Pan to the cen­ter of the galaxy and you’ll find a bright star right in the mid­dle. The stars of ESO 318–13 are bril­liant in this image but they don’t com­pare to to the bright star that is actu­ally much closer to Earth within our Milky Way Galaxy. Sev­eral bright stars are also mem­bers of our galaxy.

ESO 318–13 is an irreg­u­lar dwarf galaxy mil­lions of light-years from Earth. In this image, we see the galaxy along its edge. Although the stars are bril­liant and crys­tal clear, the beau­ti­ful image doesn’t show us much of the galaxy’s struc­ture. We do find many dis­tant galax­ies with dis­tinct spi­ral and ellip­ti­cal shapes scat­tered through­out the image.

ESO 318–13 is located toward the south­ern con­stel­la­tion Antlia, the Pump. French astronomer Nico­las Louis de Lacaille cre­ated this con­stel­la­tion in 1756 to com­mem­o­rate the air pump. The con­stel­la­tion faces away from the Milky Way Galaxy and toward deeps space and has no bright stars.

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