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Hubble crea un caos cósmico en el corazón de Pegasus

Hubble crea un caos cósmico en el corazón de Pegasus

Una imagen del Telescopio Espacial Hubble de NASA/ESA de la galaxia NGC 7292, ubicada a unos 44 millones de años luz de la Tierra en la constelación de Pegaso. Crédito: ESA/Hubble y NASA, C. Kilpatrick

The galaxy NGC 7292 billows across this image from the Hubble Space Telescope, accompanied by a handful of bright stars and the indistinct smudges of extremely distant galaxies in the background. It lies around 44 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pegasus.

This slightly disheveled galaxy is irregular, meaning that it lacks the distinct spiral arms of galaxies like the Whirlpool Galaxy (see image below) or the smooth elliptical shape of galaxies like Messier 59. Unusually, its core is stretched out into a distinct bar, a feature seen in many spiral galaxies. Alongside its hazy shape, NGC 7292 is remarkably faint. As a result, astronomers classify NGC 7292 as a low surface brightness galaxy, barely distinguishable against the backdrop of the night sky. Such galaxies are typically dominated by gas and dark matter rather than stars.

Whirlpool Galaxy M51

The graceful, winding arms of the majestic spiral galaxy M51 (NGC 5194) appear like a grand spiral staircase sweeping through space. They are actually long lanes of stars and gas laced with dust. Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Astronomers directed Hubble to inspect NGC 7292 during an observational campaign studying the aftermath of Type II supernovae. These colossal explosions happen when a massive star collapses and then violently rebounds in a catastrophic explosion that tears the star apart. Astronomers hope to learn more about the diversity of Type II supernovae they have observed by scrutinizing the aftermath and remaining nearby stars of a large sample of historical Type II supernovae.

NGC 7292’s supernova was observed in 1964 and accordingly given the identifier SN 1964H. Studying the stellar neighborhood of SN 1964H helps astronomers estimate the initial mass of the star that went supernova, and could uncover surviving stellar companions that once shared a system with the star that would become SN 1964H.

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