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The Hubble Space Telescope has looked straight into the heart of an amazing galaxy.
The observatory captured this frontal view of a grand design spiral galaxy, called NGC 3631, located about 53 million light-years from Earth. The celestial system lies in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major.
These distinctive galaxies have arms that appear to wrap around the galaxy’s structure, as well as within the galaxy’s core.
The arms of NGC 3631 are filled with bright regions where stars are born, as well as dark, dusty areas.
Stars form in the spiral arms due to material jamming. Slower-moving materials in the galaxy can become blocked, bringing the gas and dust needed for star formation to the inner part of the spiral arms.
As this accumulation of matter becomes denser, it undergoes gravitational collapse, leading to the birth of new stars. The star formation can be seen in bright blue-white in the new Hubble image. Other shades of blue represent visible light and orange showcase infrared light, which is otherwise invisible to the human eye.
This image was created using data from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys.
Spiral galaxies are incredibly common across the universe, while grand design spirals are rarer. They are distinguished by their very well defined spiral arms.