In its more than 30 years of service, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured some intriguing images of the universe, helping astronomers understand the mysterious events happening there. One of the images is of a spiral galaxy called NGC 3147. Located about 130 million light-years away in the constellation Draco, this majestic galaxy is also known as the “Dragon”. This image shows the Milky Way’s graceful, sinuous arms looking like a grand spiral staircase sweeping through space. In reality, the spirals contain pink nebulae, young blue stars, and dust in silhouette.
The image was first released by the space agency in July 2019. While the frame looks very beautiful from the outside, it hides an obvious interesting fact. At the heart of the Milky Way is a malnourished black hole surrounded by a thin, dense disk of stars, gas and dust that is drawn into a gravitational vortex. The gravitational pull of a black hole is so strong that anything that comes close to it will be drawn into the disk.
According to NASA’s Hubble team, the massive black hole weighs about 250 million times the mass of the sun. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, the disk is so deeply embedded in the black hole’s strong gravitational field that the light from the gas disk is modified, giving astronomers a unique glimpse into the dynamic processes near the black hole.
With an unobstructed view of the universe, Hubble constantly strives to keep tabs on space events. The team then posted images on social media that they believe are worthy of arousing the curiosity of amateur astronomers around the world.
Recently, it shared an image of a fascinating spiral galaxy called Caldwell 5, which is about 11 million light-years away. It has an active stellar nursery at its core, capable of producing thousands of stars over a few million years.
Hubble was deployed in 1990, far above rain clouds, light pollution and atmospheric distortions.