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Hubble image shows a brilliant nearby star and a beautiful distant galaxy

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of a distant galaxy and a close bright star in the same frame, showing the contrast of the two. The galaxy in question is NGC 4907, located 270 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices. The star, which appears below the galaxy toward the center of this image, is located in our galaxy.

“Shining brightly below the galaxy is a star that is actually within our own Milky Way galaxy,” the Hubble scientists explain. “This star appears much brighter than the many millions of stars in NGC 4907 as it is 100,000 times closer, residing only 2,500 light-years away.”

The barred spiral galaxy known as NGC 4907
The barred spiral galaxy known as NGC 4907 shows its best side from 270 million light-years away to anyone who can see it from the northern hemisphere. This is a new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the face-on the galaxy, displaying its beautiful spiral arms, wound loosely around its central bright bar of stars. ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Gregg

NGC 4907 is a type of galaxy called a barred spiral galaxy, meaning it has a bar-like structure of more densely packed stars across its center. Barred spiral galaxies are the most commonly found so far, with around two-thirds of known galaxies being of this type including our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

Another feature of NGC 4907 is that it is classified as a low-ionization nuclear emission-line region or LINER galaxy. This type of galaxy has ionized gas in its center, although astronomers are still debating whether the source of the ionization is a supermassive black hole at the center, or whether the energy comes from star-forming regions within the galaxy.

This galaxy is part of a large group of galaxies which are collectively known as the Coma Cluster. This cluster has a neighbor, the Leo Cluster, and together the two are the primary clusters within the Coma Supercluster. The Coma Cluster is notably for being filled with older galaxies, with only a few younger spiral galaxies dotted around the fringes of the cluster. This area was also where some of the earliest observations were made suggesting the presence of dark matter in the 1930s.

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