NASA’S Hubble Space Telescope took this incredible picture of a galaxy that looks like a “gaping portal to another dimension”.
ESA said: “In this image taken by Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film, swirling like a gaping portal to another dimension.
“In the grand scheme of things, though, the galaxy is actually quite ordinary.
“Spiral galaxies like NGC 4380 are common in the universe.
“These colossal collections of stars, often numbering in the hundreds of billions, are shaped like a flat disc, sometimes with a rounded bulge in the centre.
“Graceful spiral arms outlined by dark lanes of dust wind around the bulging core, which glows brightly and has the highest concentration of stars in the galaxy”
Our Milky Way also happens to be a spiral galaxy like the one in NASA’s image.
Spiral galaxies have a very characteristic shape with spindly arms spinning around a central core.
Astronomers believe the Milky Way has four of these arms, two of which were only confirmed in 2013.
Our entire solar system is located in one of the arms – the Orion Arm.
Spiral galaxies tend to drift through space towards one another and over many billions of years, they can even collide.
Between four and five billion years from now, astronomers estimate the Milky Way will meet the same fate.
The Milky Way is en route to spectacularly collide with the neighbouring galaxy Andromeda.
ESA said: “Over eons, spiral galaxies tend to run into other galaxies, often resulting in mergers.
“These coalescing events scramble the winding structures of the original galaxies, smoothing and rounding their shape.
“These objects possess a beauty all their own, distinct from the spiral galaxies from whence they came.”
Thankfully, if humanity is still around four billion years from, the collision is unlikely to be a big concern to life on Earth.
VIDEO: Hubble telescope captures Interstellar Comet Borisov
What types of galaxies are there?
Astronomers at NASA recognise three main types of galaxies: spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies and irregular galaxies.
Elliptical galaxies are smooth and oval shapes and are distinct from spiral galaxies.
Spiral clusters are curved around a central axis and are reminiscent of a pinwheel.
Irregular galaxies do not have a defined shape but look more like blobs.
NASA said: “The light that we see from each of these galaxies comes from the stars inside it.”
Quick facts about the Hubble Space Telescope:
1. The Hubble telescope measures about 43.5ft in length or 13.2m.
2. The primary mirror mounted on Hubble measures 94.5 inches across (2.4m).
3. Hubble flies over Earth in a low Earth orbit (LEO) of about 340 miles or 547 km.
4. The solar-powered telescope transmits about 150 gigabits of raw science data every week.
5. Hubble’s flies around the aplenty at a speed of around 17,000mph – same as the International Space Station (ISS).
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