Hypnotizing Spiral Galaxy NGC 4303 Can Show How Stars Are Born

You’ll want to take a few minutes today to take a deep breath and immerse yourself in this amazing new photo. Behold NGC 4303: a spiral galaxy 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. It’s completely hypnotic.


The new image was built from data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/sublime Array (ALMA) located high in the Chilean Andes mountains. This is not the first photograph of NGC 4303, but it has never been depicted so vividly before. You can see bright yellow light emanating from the galaxy’s core and radiating outward—outlining the structure of the stellar gas from which stars form. The blue tassels represent stars that have formed and grown.

These new colors are thanks to ALMA’s ability to observe NGC 4303 at other wavelengths to give it better definition and determine what type of element it is composed of. Previous images of the galaxy, like this one taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, have been beautiful in their own right, but the intense light makes it difficult to discern the actual composition and structure. hard.

NGC 4303 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

ESA/Hubble & NASA

In fact, the new data, collected by the European Southern Observatory operating ALMA, is a natural result of the Physics at High Angle Resolution in Nearby Galaxy (PHANGS) project, which uses both ground- and space-based instruments for galactic observations across the Electromagnetic Spectrum. A major trend in astronomy today is a more focused effort on studying distant structures using different forms of radio, infrared, optical, and ultraviolet data.

Ultimately, images like these are not only an eye-catching attraction for astronomers and space enthusiasts alike. They are used by astronomers to study exactly how the confluence and interaction of The gas and dust in space combine to start the birth of new stars. They are especially interested in determine which galaxies may contain ingredients that could lead to life.

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