A remote galaxy shining with the light of more than 300 trillion suns has been discovered using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The galaxy is the most luminous galaxy found to date and belongs to a new class of objects recently discovered by WISE -- extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs.
When astronomers first saw this gleeful little galaxy, they most likely had a good chuckle. What if you looked through your telescope and saw something smiling back at you? Two black holes in the center of this cheerful galaxy makes it look like a smiley face.
Like a pinwheel, this galaxy spins seemingly with the help of unseen cosmic breath. The Pinwheel Galaxy also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457, is a face-on spiral galaxy at a distance of 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. With a diameter of about 170,000 light years it is 70 percent larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Resembling a jewel studded grand staircase, the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) is one of the most sought after treasures of astronomers. Swirling with stellar gems and laced with cosmic stardust it proudly displays it's well defined spiral arms. One of the arms is punctuated with a galactic diamond, a smaller galaxy known as NGC 5195.
Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's cutting-edge tools, the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico.
As we sit on our hunk of rock somewhere in the outskirts of the Milky Way, we have no way to see ourselves from the outside. The Triangulum Galaxy helps us to imagine what we could look like. It is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy and about 30 other smaller galaxies. This galactic wonder is one of the most distant permanent objects that can be viewed with the naked eye.
At first glance this image taken by Hubble immediately invokes mind-blowing awe and wonder. THIS is out there in our universe. Hubble tells us the story of the galaxy in which it focused it's gaze. This is galaxy NGC 4522. It is one of about 1,300 galaxies racing around each in the Virgo galaxy cluster. Speeding through space it is being stripped of it's gas content. Every one of the galaxies visible in this incredible image has it's own story. Each one is filled with hundreds of billions of other suns with perhaps trillions of planets. What are their stories?
This bright galaxy is one of the most famous examples of an edge-on spiral galaxy, oriented perpendicularly to our line of sight so that we see right into its luminous disc. NGC 4565 has been nicknamed the Needle Galaxy because, when seen in full, it appears as a very narrow streak of light on the sky. It is amazing to see such beautiful detail in a galaxy 50 million light years from Earth both from the ground and in astonishing close ups by Hubble.
The Hubble Space Telescope has wowed us again, this time with an image of a galactic dance between two galaxies. As the pair get closer to each other their original shapes are stretched and pulled promoting imagination and wonder to all who view them. Some have said they look like a penguin or hummingbird. What do you see?