Hubble celebrates 27th birthday with tilted view of two spiral galaxies

By Brooks Hays   |   April 20, 2017 at 1:34 PM
| License Photo

April 20 (UPI) -- The Hubble Space Telescope is 27 years old today. To celebrate, the telescope snapped a portrait showcasing a pair of spiral galaxies at unique angles.

The image features an edge-own view of the galaxy NGC 4302 and a tilted view of NGC 4298. Despite their divergent appearances in the newest portrait, the galactic pair are quite similar in size and structure.

The the two galaxies reveal how the Milky Way might appear to outside observers. However, both are significantly smaller than the Milky Way.

At approximately 110 billion solar masses, NGC 4302 is just one-tenth the mass of the Milky Way. The Milky Way boasts a mass of 1 trillion suns. Likewise, NGC 4302 is only 60 percent the width of the Milky Way. NGC 4298 is roughly a third of the width of the Milky Way and measures just 2 percent of the Milky Way's mass.

NGC 4302 and NGC 4298 are neighbors in the constellation Coma Berenices. Each lies 55 million light-years from Earth, and are members of the Virgo Cluster, which boasts of population of nearly 2 million galaxies.

Most spiral galaxies feature a central region of older gas and stars surrounded by rotating arms of new stars. The arms and outer regions of spiral galaxies typically host higher rates of star formation.

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