Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy

Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy is 50 million light years away, but it looks much closer in this detailed image from the Hubble Space Telescope.

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We see the flattened disc of the Sombrero Galaxy nearly edge-on, and it’s ringed with dark lanes of dust and young, bright stars.

Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy

The galaxy’s large central bulge is home to older stars, including many globular clusters (round groups of several stars), which you can see in this Hubble image if you zoom in and look closely. Like most galaxies, the Sombrero probably has a large black hole at its heart.

Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy

This image is so detailed, you can see other galaxies in the background.

Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy
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Think about this for a minute: Each of those tiny little specks of light in the Sombrero Galaxy is a star, on roughly the same scale as our Sun. Each of those little galaxies in the background of this image is roughly on the same scale as the Sombrero Galaxy, so think about how far away they have to be in order to appear so small in the background. Space is huge, and this image illustrates that beautifully.

Zoom in on the original image and scroll around to see more distant galaxies. You can’t see them in as much detail as the Sombrero, of course, but what you can see is pretty cool.

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Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy
Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy
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See if you can find this cool double spiral near the bottom of the image.

Illustration for article titled Tour This Gorgeous Hubble Photo of the Sombrero Galaxy
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This Hubble image is stunning, but you can also see the Sombrero Galaxy with a much smaller telescope. Just look near the constellation of Virgo in the night sky.

[NASA]


Contact the author at k.smithstrickland@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter.

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DISCUSSION

It is so hard to explain, but I look at this picture and my stomach hurts. It’s not like pain, but a strong feeling that manifests itself as this void in my core. I see all those systems and I know there is life there. There has to be. The more I think about it, the more it hurts to know it and not being able to say “Hi”. I’m not an astronomer, a scientist or a space cowboy; but it makes me feel so frustrated, big and small at the same time. A click away and there are millions of stars. Not even talking about the Sombrero galaxy, anywhere! You randomly click right there you have millions of stars with billions of planets. It hurts so good and bad. It’s just amazing.