As 2020 draws to a close, NASA is celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30 years of service by releasing 30 newly processed images of galaxies, star clusters and nebulae from the Caldwell catalogue, compiled by Sir Patrick Moore, a collection of 109 amateur-accessible targets not included in Charles Messier’s familiar list. Over Hubble’s three decades in space, starting with launch in April 1990, astronomers have observed 98 of the objects on the Caldwell list and the updated catalogue now includes processed images of 87 (several targets were imaged more than once). The new composite image below is a closeup of Caldwell 45, or NGC 5248, a beautiful spiral galaxy in the constellation Boötes, that was captured by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. The glowing red clouds indicate regions where new stars are lighting up.
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.
An international team of scientists has detected and confirmed the faintest early-universe galaxy ever using the ten-metre Keck II telescope on the summit on Maunakea, Hawaii. The team analysed three separate images of the object gravitationally lensed by a foreground galaxy cluster, revealing the distant galaxy as it was 13 billion years ago.