The news from the stars keeps coming and this time it’s about an impressive image that NASA has captured of a newly studied spiral galaxy.
The galaxy in question is called IC 1954 and it is located approximately 45 million light-years away in the southern constellation of Horologium, one of the constellations that are at the limit of what is possible to admire with the naked eye.
This spiral galaxy was in the sights of several astronomers for centuries, discovered in 1898 by the Scottish astronomer Robert Innes, but it would not be until now that there is a clear picture of its appearance and, even better, data on its formation and structure.
To achieve this impressive accomplishment, the work of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was necessary to obtain a detailed image of the astral body. Once the image was obtained, it was combined with radio data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, so the scientists were able to reconstruct a clearer picture of star formation.
The collaborative worked in such a way that the space telescope observed clusters of young stars in nearby galaxies at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths while the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) collected data on star-forming disks and cold gas clouds.
It was through a new wide-field camera that Hubble was able to absorb both the visible light and ultraviolet light from the galaxy during different long exposures to give us this final product, which in turn was able to join the information gathered at ALMA to understand what was happening in that galaxy.
Astronomers from the Hubble telescope stated that “The combination of the two sets of observations allowed scientists to connect the dots and understand the connections between young stars and the clouds of cold gas that originate them.”
Thanks to joint work and detailed information, it is now known about IC 1954 that it has an active and bright nucleus from which gaseous expanses, filled with dust and stars, propagate in a way quite similar to our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
As the galaxy spins, all that gas and dust continually collide and freezes into the stars, and the leftover material forms planets, moons, asteroid belts, and all the other things you can find in space.
This achievement also has more direct repercussions on the scientific and astronomical scene, as it marks the closest step to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, a collaborative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency, launching this fall, which is claimed to be the largest and most technologically advanced space telescope in history.
As for IC 1954, recent discoveries, due to all their similarities to our own galaxy, also establish a benchmark for learning how the stars, moons, and planets that are part of our own space formed in the universe.