Science

Hubble telescope detects a celestial ‘eye’, a galaxy with an incredibly active core

A cosmic hurricane shows its ‘eye’ in a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The spiral galaxy NGC 5728 has great power at its center. This structure located 130 million light years from Earth in the constellation Libra is in a unique cosmic category thanks to its active core.

NGC 5728 is a Seyfert galaxy, which means that one of its particular features is the active galactic nucleus at its core that glows from all the gas and dust spewing around its central black hole. Sometimes the galactic nuclei are busy and bright enough to outshine the rest of the galaxy in visible and infrared light. But Seyfert galaxies like NGC 5728 are a special treat from Goldilocks, because human instruments can still see the rest of the Seyfert galaxies clearly.

Related: Vibrant Globular Cluster Glows in New Hubble Telescope Photo

A full-size view of the spiral galaxy NGC 5728 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Image credit: ESA / Hubble, A. Riess et al., J. Greene)

The European Space Agency (ESA) released this new image on Monday (September 27). According to ESA, which jointly operates the Hubble Space Telescope with NASA, the spacecraft used its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) to capture this view. Officials said in a statement describing the photo that, even as glorious as this cosmic scene appears here, there is also a lot going on near NGC 5728 that the camera doesn’t capture.

“As this image shows, NGC 5728 is clearly observable, and at optical and infrared wavelengths it appears quite normal,” ESA officials wrote in the description. “It is fascinating to know that the center of the galaxy emits large amounts of light in parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that WFC3 is simply not sensitive to!”

It turns out that the iris of NGC 5728’s galactic ‘eye’ could indeed be emitting some visible and infrared light that the camera would detect were it not for the glowing dust surrounding the nucleus.

Follow Doris Elin Urrutia on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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