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Hubble Shows Stunning Image of Dwarf Galaxy NGC 5477

Jan 15, 2013 06:32 AM EST

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning image of a dwarf galaxy - NGC 5477.

NGC 5477 is a small dwarf galaxy located in the group of a spiral galaxy called Messier 101. This galaxy is one of the biggest and brightest spiral galaxies in the night sky. Messier 101, which is located in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear), is also dubbed as NGC 5457 or the Pinwheel Galaxy.

The spiral galaxy was discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain in the year 1781. Just like our Milky Way galaxy, the Pinwheel galaxy also has small dwarf galaxies in its neighborhood. NGC 5477 is one of the dwarf galaxies in Messier 101's group.

The Hubble Space Telescope observed the NGC 5477 dwarf galaxy through a selection of green and infrared filters, as part of a project to measure the exact distances of galaxies located within about 30 million light-years from Earth, announced NASA.

The nebulae that extend across the galaxy are clouds of glowing hydrogen gas. New stars are forming in these clouds.

NGC 5477 looks like an irregular dwarf galaxy, showing visible signs of ongoing star birth. Besides NGC 5477, other galaxies are also visible in the background of the image.

The Hubble telescope is a joint ESA and NASA project, which was launched into the orbit in 1990. The space-based observatory makes observations of space through visible, infrared and ultraviolet light.

According to the ESA, the Hubble telescope is capable of detecting light with "eyes" five times sharper than the best ground-based telescopes. The space telescope has made some interesting discoveries in the history of astronomy. It has played a key role in discovering that a mysterious form of energy, called dark energy, is acting like a cosmic gas pedal.

The telescope has also provided astronomers with snapshots of the early universe and also captured images of nebulas like the Orion nebula, which showed how stars are formed.

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