Galactic Tranquility – Spectacular Spiral Galaxy Captured by Hubble Space Telescope

Galaxy NGC 976

Galaxy NGC 976 imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Jones, A. Riess et al.

The lazily winding spiral arms of the spectacular galaxy NGC 976 fill the frame of this image from the

Supernovae are also a useful aid for astronomers who measure the distances to faraway galaxies. The amount of energy thrown out into space by supernova explosions is very uniform, allowing astronomers to estimate their distances from how bright they appear to be when viewed from Earth. This image — which was created using data from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 — comes from a large collection of Hubble observations of nearby galaxies which host supernovae as well as a pulsating class of stars known as Cepheid variables. Both Cepheids and supernovae are used to measure astronomical distances, and galaxies containing both objects provide useful natural laboratories where the two methods can be calibrated against one another.