The “Black Eye” galaxy, also known as M64 and more officially as NGC 4826, stands out because of a dark band of dusty debris that spreads out across one side of a brilliant nucleus. The gas in the non-stellar outer reaches rotates in the opposite direction from gas in the inner regions, possibly suggesting a merger with a gas-rich galaxy in the distant past. New stars are forming where the counter-rotating gas collides. Discovered by English astronomer Edward Pigott in 1779, NGC 4826 is located some 17 million light years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices and is a familiar target for amateur astronomers. This spectacular view was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
When Edwin Hubble discovered nearly 100 years ago that the universe was uniformly expanding in all directions, the finding was a big surprise. Then, in the mid-1990s, another shocker occurred: astronomers found that the expansion rate was accelerating, perhaps due to “dark energy.” Now, the latest measurements of our runaway universe suggest that it is expanding faster than astronomers thought.
Astronomers harnessing the combined power of NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have found the faintest object ever seen in the early universe. It existed about 400 million years after the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The new object is comparable in size to the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a diminutive satellite galaxy of our Milky Way.