Though we’re still reeling from the first images of distant galaxies taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, we can’t overlook the contributions of our old faithful friend Hubble. Researchers share stunning images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope every week, and this week’s image shows a trio of galactic objects of varying different types.
These objects, located in the constellation of Hercules, were imaged in the optical wavelength by Hubble. There are three main objects here: the prominent galaxy LEDA 58109 in the top right, named for the Lyon-Meudon Extragalactic Database in which it is cataloged, and two more objects in the bottom left. The most distant of these two objects is the galaxy SDSS J162557.25+435743.5, named after the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and in front of this is an active galactic nucleus called SDSS J162558.14+435746.4.
An active galactic nucleus or AGN is a busy region at the heart of a galaxy that is notably bright, but this brightness is not necessarily due to stars. The light given off by these regions can be in the radio, microwave, infrared, and ultraviolet wavelengths as well as visible light, and it is thought to be given off by the enormous supermassive black holes which lie at the center of almost every galaxy. As these regions shine brightly, they can obscure other galaxies like the example seen in this image.
Additionally, this image shows the many types of galaxies that exist. “Galaxy classification is sometimes presented as something of a dichotomy: spiral and elliptical,” Hubble scientists write. “However, the diversity of galaxies in this image alone highlights the complex web of galaxy classifications that exist, including galaxies that house extremely luminous AGNs at their cores, and galaxies whose shapes defy the classification of either spiral or elliptical.”