NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope continues to survey the universe and discover new galaxies. Recently NASA posted a new photo taken by the telescope. It shows Messier 90, a spiral galaxy approaching the Milky Way. The image is breathtaking for anyone who looks at it.
According to a statement on the Hubble website, scientists discovered that Messier 90 is one of only a few galaxies that is approaching Milky Way. They discovered this as the galaxy emits light which shows it is approaching.
“The galaxy is compressing the wavelength of its light as it moves towards us, like a slinky being squashed when you push on one end,” the Hubble team said in the statement.
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Using Hubble’s instruments to study the visible light spectrum, shorter wavelengths appear blue in color. The light is compressed from our perspective. Messier 90 shows the behavior of a phenomenon called “blueshift,” which enables scientists determine that the spiral galaxy is approaching the Milky Way.
This is a fascinating discovery because most of the other galaxies observed in the Milky Way’s neighborhood are moving away as the universe expands. That is apparent because the light they emit is red, also known as the redshift in the visible light spectrum. Interestingly, the Virgo Cluster as a whole is moving away from the Milky Way, according to the statement. However, some galaxies in the cluster oppose its trajectory and move faster than the cluster. From Earth’s perspective, we see a galaxy that moves towards us, even though other galaxies within the cluster are moving away from Earth.
The mesmerizing image of Messier 90 uses infrared, ultraviolet and visible light. The camera it uses is made up of four light detectors with overlapping fields of view; the image shows a staircase-shaped hole in the top corner. There are more Messier objects taken by Hubble. The Messier objects were discovered by astronomer Charles Messier, and Hubble has a gallery of those images here.
Last week, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope revealed a joint photo of galaxy clusters and nebulae combined with gas and dust. The image shows gorgeous color patterns and how beautiful the universe is, even though we can’t perceive it as a whole.
You can see the photo of the Messier 90 spiral galaxy approaching the Milky Way here.