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Hubble Space Telescope takes stunning snap of NGC 5728 galaxy that has ‘celestial eye’

Hubble Space Telescope takes stunning snap of spiral galaxy called NGC 5728 which has brightly-illuminated ‘celestial eye’ caused by gas and dust swirling around its black hole

  • NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped an image of galaxy NGC 5728
  • NGC 5728 is a Seyfert galaxy, which are ‘powered by their active cores’ 
  • These galaxies have a significantly higher brightness in the central region than the remaining galaxy light, but NGC 5728 can be observed 
  • The Hubble used its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to snap the photo 


NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a remarkable image of galaxy in deep space that has an active core, akin to a ‘cosmic eye.’

The galaxy, known as NGC 5728, is 130 million light-years from Earth.

It appears to be a spiral galaxy, just like the Milky Way, but it is in fact a Seyfert galaxy, a type of galaxy that are ‘powered by their active cores,’ according to a statement from NASA. 

These galaxies are part of the active galactic nuclei (AGNs) class, which have a significantly higher brightness in the central region than the remaining galaxy light.

‘Other types of AGNs, such as quasars, emit so much radiation that it is almost impossible to observe the galaxy that houses them,’ NASA added.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped an image of galaxy NGC 5728, 130 million light-years from Earth. NGC 5728 is a Seyfert galaxy, which are ‘powered by their active cores’

However, NGC 5728 is clearly observable and in optical and infrared wavelengths, it is ‘quite normal’ looking, NASA explained.   

 The center of NGC 5728 galaxy is emitting ‘vast amounts’ of light in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that the WFC3 camera would be able to see even if it was not near the dust surrounding the galaxy’s core. 

The Hubble used its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to snap the photo. 

This instrument has been responsible for other discoveries in recent memory, such as the discovery of a jet of blue gas that looks like a light-saber.  

The Hubble used its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to snap the photo. The Hubble is set to be replaced by the $10 billion James Webb Telescope when it launches later this year

The Hubble used its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to snap the photo. The Hubble is set to be replaced by the $10 billion James Webb Telescope when it launches later this year

Seyfert galaxies are named after American astronomer Carl K. Seyfert, who first spotted them in 1944.

There are two types: Type 1 Seyfert galaxies which have broad emission lines and Type 2 Seyfert galaxies, which have strong emission lines.  

In August, Hubble’s WFC3 was responsible for releasing an image of a stellar nursery, AFGL 5180, 5,000 light-years from Earth.

The Hubble, which has operated for over 30 years, is set to be replaced by the $10 billion James Webb Telescope when it launches later this year.

It will head into space from French Guiana on December 18, after a series of delays.

Since its launch in April 1990, the Hubble has taken more than 1.5 million observations of the universe, and over 18,000 scientific papers have been published based on its data.

It orbits Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at about 340 miles in altitude, slightly higher than the International Space Station.

The telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 and discovered that the universe is expanding, as well as the rate at which it is doing so.

Scientists study the atmosphere of distant exoplanets using enormous space satellites like Hubble

Distant stars and their orbiting planets often have conditions unlike anything we see in our atmosphere. 

To understand these new world’s, and what they are made of, scientists need to be able to detect what their atmospheres consist of.  

They often do this by using a telescope similar to Nasa’s Hubble Telescope.

These enormous satellites scan the sky and lock on to exoplanets that Nasa think may be of interest. 

Here, the sensors on board perform different forms of analysis. 

One of the most important and useful is called absorption spectroscopy. 

This form of analysis measures the light that is coming out of a planet’s atmosphere. 

Every gas absorbs a slightly different wavelength of light, and when this happens a black line appears on a complete spectrum. 

These lines correspond to a very specific molecule, which indicates it’s presence on the planet. 

They are often called Fraunhofer lines after the German astronomer and physicist that first discovered them in 1814.

By combining all the different wavelengths of lights, scientists can determine all the chemicals that make up the atmosphere of a planet. 

The key is that what is missing, provides the clues to find out what is present.  

It is vitally important that this is done by space telescopes, as the atmosphere of Earth would then interfere. 

Absorption from chemicals in our atmosphere would skew the sample, which is why it is important to study the light before it has had chance to reach Earth. 

This is often used to look for helium, sodium and even oxygen in alien atmospheres.  

This diagram shows how light passing from a star and through the atmosphere of an exoplanet produces Fraunhofer lines indicating the presence of key compounds such as sodium or helium 

This diagram shows how light passing from a star and through the atmosphere of an exoplanet produces Fraunhofer lines indicating the presence of key compounds such as sodium or helium 

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