NASA has released a stunning image snapped by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the barred spiral galaxy Messier 91.
Messier 91 is located approximately 56 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices.
This galaxy was discovered in 1781 by the French astronomer Charles Messier who described it as nebula without stars, fainter than Messier 90.
Messier 91 resides in the Local Supercluster and is part of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.
Also known as M91, NGC 4548, IRAS 12328+1446, and LEDA 41934, it is classified as a barred spiral galaxy.
“While Messier 91’s prominent bar makes for a spectacular galactic portrait, it also hides an astronomical monstrosity,” Hubble astronomers said.
“Like our own Galaxy, Messier 91 contains a supermassive black hole at its center.”
“A 2009 study using archival Hubble data found that this central black hole has a mass between 9.6 and 38 million solar masses.”
The new image of Messier 91 is made up of observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) in the ultraviolet, near-infrared, and optical parts of the spectrum.
Five filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter.
“This observation is part of an effort to build a treasure trove of astronomical data exploring the connections between young stars and the clouds of cold gas in which they form,” the researchers said.
“To do this, we used Hubble to obtain ultraviolet and visible observations of galaxies already seen at radio wavelengths by the ground-based Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).”
“Observing time with Hubble is a highly valued, and much sought-after, resource for us,” they explained.
“To obtain data from the telescope, we first have to write a proposal detailing what they want to observe and highlighting the scientific importance of their observations.”
“These proposals are then anonymized and judged on their scientific merit by a variety of astronomical experts.”
“This process is incredibly competitive: following Hubble’s latest call for proposals, only around 13% of the proposals were awarded observing time.”
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