Space enthusiasts will love this. With the magic of social media, once unattainable information for the general public can now be viewed, shared or be critiqued by anyone and everyone. While some use social media to connect with their favourite celebrities, others are interested in stars of a different variety – the actual celestial bodies. If you are one of the latter, then NASA’s Instagram page has a little gift for you in the form of some “cosmic sparkle”, as the agency puts it – a phenomenal view of the exceptional cosmos, a peek into another galaxy, far, far away.
The picture shared by NASA can only be described as phenomenal with a rich blue canvas of cloudy structures, a sprinkle of shiny white and yellow stars, and many glowing orange-red orbs of celestial bodies. The longer you look, the more mesmerised you’ll be.
In the caption, the agency noted that the galaxy, which was pictured by their very powerful Hubble Telescope, is 59 million light-years away. For reference, 1 light year is near about 9 trillion kilometres!
The galaxy is called I Zwicky 18, named after its discoverer Fritz Zwicky. It is a dwarf irregular galaxy. The caption explained that the “bluish-white knots at the heart of the galaxy” are starburst regions where stars form rapidly.
The image was posted as a result of “Choose your Hubble Adventure,” a game held by the agency on Instagram Story feature where the audience got to participate.
Here is the photo.
The photo has over 74K likes so far and thousands of astonished comments. “Who doesn't love a little cosmic sparkle” noted one user. “The heavens declare Your majesty,” another said. “This is beautiful thank you nasa hubble,” thanked one space fan.
The featured galaxy, I Zwicky 18, is actually quite interesting. In a very old article about it, NASA called it the “Dorian Gray Galaxy,” based on Oscar Wilde’s fictional character who seemed to not age but his painting did. Because once it was believed to be quite young, the more astronomers studied this cosmic structure, the more they realised how old it actually is! Based on Palomer observations, they put the galaxy’s birth-date billions of years after its neighbouring galactic formations.
Earlier, it was thought to be a “young galaxy” but according to European Space Agency (ESA), the ESA-NASA Hubble telescope helped debunk that theory. Though the galaxy has many “youthful features,” there are some very old stars within its folds.