Hubble Captures Stunning Image of Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1385

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This Hubble image features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1385. Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) was used to produce this color composite image from separate exposures in the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared regions of the spectrum. Five filters were used to sample various wavelengths. Based on their wavelengths (colors), a color palette is used to assign the respective color to each monochromatic image respectively. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / J. Lee / PHANGS-HST Team.

Discovered by Anglo-German Astronomer William Herschel on November 17, 1784 and located approximately 68 million light-years distant in the southern constellation Fornax, is NGC (New General Catalog) 1385. Like the Milky Way, NGC-1385 is a Barred Spiral Galaxy but 40% smaller at 70,000 light years in diameter.

The central ‘bar’ is the result of density waves rotating around the disk with a different rotational speed than individual stars, much like the waves that create the spiral structure of these galaxies. Gravitational instabilities and interactions in the centers of the galaxies, or gravitational disturbances from nearby galaxies contribute to the density waves and thus to the ‘barred’ structure that transects the galaxy’s center.

Spiral Galaxies

Spiral galaxies are notable in their diverse stellar population and this example is no different.

Prevalent in the spiral arms and outer 2/3 of the galaxy are hot, luminous O and B class stars, stars that represent some of the most luminous stars in the universe. Upon close inspection of the High-Resolution image, these stars are visible at 68 million light years as sharp blue, blue-white points of light in the Hubble Image!

The galaxy’s spiral arms, replete with gas and dust, the building blocks of stars, provide the environment for new star formation. Noting the color as we move closer to the galaxy’s center, the gas and dust thins out and we see older, more mature stars such as our sun. This warmer color is consistent with these cooler, older, more evolved stars with no new star formation occurring in this region.

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