Spiral Galaxy M106
This portrait of nearby galaxy M106 is a composite of separate exposures acquired by various instruments on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope as well as ground-based telescopes. It shows the active galaxy’s chaotic center, where large amounts of gas are thought to be falling into and fueling a supermassive black hole.
In addition to the starry arms we typically see in spiral galaxies, this image shows red “anomalous arms” of hot gas. Astronomers think the gas is being expelled from the galaxy’s active central nucleus.
Cepheid variable stars in this galaxy were used to refine the cosmic “distance ladder,” which helps us to understand the vast distances of deep space, and how objects there relate to each other in spacetime. Certain Cepheids have a regular cycle of brightness changes, and this special property of these stars reveals how far away they are from us, providing benchmarks for measuring other objects in the universe.
The image was created by astrophotographer Robert Gendler, who is not a professional astronomer but a civilian who took an interest in space and has been photographing the night sky for decades. He used publicly available Hubble data, combined with his own work and that of another astrophotographer, Jay GaBany, to create this hybrid image.
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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler (for the Hubble Heritage Team); Acknowledgment: J. GaBany
Ground based image data provided by R. Gendler and J. GaBany was used to fill in or supplement areas where Hubble data did not exist or was limited.