A seemingly delicate bubble of gas photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2006 captures the aftermath of a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud some 160,000 light years from Earth’s Milky Way. The remnants of the doomed star form a ring-like structure 23 light years across expanding through space at 18 million kilometres per hour (11 million mph). The remnant, known as SNR 0509, features ripples in the bubble’s surface that may be the result of density variations or collisions with debris from the original explosion. This image was captured by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys using a filter that isolates the glowing hydrogen in the expanding shell. Visible light images of the surrounding star field were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera.
This new Hubble image shows Messier 96 (M96 or NGC 3368), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Leo that lies about 35 million light-years away. About the same mass and size as the Milky Way, M96 resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust along asymmetric arms that swirl inwards towards the nucleus.
The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is known as NGC 3597. It is the product of a collision between two good-sized galaxies, and is slowly evolving to become a giant elliptical galaxy. This type of galaxy has grown more and more common as the universe has evolved, with initially small galaxies merging and progressively building up into larger galactic structures over time.