Some consider the Hubble Space Telescope’s “deep field” images among the observatory’s most profound achievements, showing the cosmos is populated by countless galaxies across timescales stretching back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang. This Hubble look at galaxy cluster S 295, dominating the central region of this image, offers an equally mesmerising view with a wide range of galaxies mingled with foreground stars. The combined gravity of the galaxy cluster distorts the space around it, causing the light of background galaxies to smear out in variety of shapes. Says the European Space Agency’s “picture of the week” description: “As well as providing astronomers with a natural magnifying glass with which to study distant galaxies, gravitational lensing has subtly framed the centre of this image, producing a visually striking scene.”
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows NGC 4789A, a dwarf irregular galaxy in the constellation of Coma Berenices. It certainly lives up to its name — the stars that call this galaxy home are smeared out across the sky in an apparently disorderly and irregular jumble, giving NGC 4789A a far more subtle and abstract appearance than its glitzy spiral and elliptical cousins.
Galactic arms, sunflowers and whirlpools are only a few examples of nature’s apparent preference for spirals. A beautiful example is Messier 63, nicknamed the Sunflower Galaxy, its winding arms shining bright due to the presence of recently formed, blue–white giant stars and clusters, readily seen in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.