Stunning 'eye of the serpent' spotted by Hubble in spiral arms of a galaxy in the Hydra constellation

Scientists have discovered a cosmic eye of the serpent with the help of an image of the galaxy captured by the Hubble telescope. The observatory captured the spiral arms of Galaxy NGC 2835 such that the multiple spiral arms create the illusion of an eye.

The ‘eye’ is situated near the head of the southern constellation of Hydra, which is also called the water snake. Hubble's scientists said in a statement that although it was not visible in the recent picture, a super massive black hole (with a mass that is millions of times that of our Sun's) is at the heart of the galaxy.

The galaxy NGC 2835, which is roughly half as wide as the Milky Way galaxy, has several arms that spiral outwards – like many other spiral galaxies. This also has a central bar-like structure that is dense with stars.

Only about half of all the known spiral galaxies have a central bar-like structure. Apart from NGC 2835, our own Milky Way is also a barred spiral galaxy.

The magnificent galaxy NGC 2835 near the head of the southern constellation Hydra (the water snake). Image Credit: ESA/Hubble/ NASA, J. Lee/PHANGS-HST Team.

The recent in-detailed picture was captured by Hubble as part of the PHANGS-HST survey. Under this wide survey, Hubble scientists are planning on building the “first astronomical dataset charting the connections between young stars and gas”.

By observing and studying the properties of some 1,00,000 star clusters, associations and gas clouds, the research team aims to "provide new constraints" on the timescales, efficiencies and the evolution of star formation at the scale of entire galaxies.

In case of NGC 2835, astronomers have found that the cold and dense gas is responsible for producing several young stars “within large star formation regions”. The bright blue areas, as observed in the image, are usually observed in the outer spiral arms of other galaxies as well. This is where near-ultraviolet light is "emitted more strongly" – indicating that recent or ongoing star formation is active.

The PHANGS program is a collaboration with the international Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimetre Array (ALMA) and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope's MUSE instrument.

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