The galaxy NGC 691 in the constellation Aries presents a stunning target for the Hubble Space Telescope, showing off near perfect spiral arms wrapped tightly around a brilliant core. Discovered by William Herschel in November 1786, NGC 691 is about 120 million light years from the Milky Way and measures some 130,000 light years across. A type 1a supernova, a class used as “standard candles” in surveys supporting the discovery of dark energy, was detected in NGC 691 in 2005.
A group of researchers using the W. M. Keck Observatory have discovered a planet-like body that may have been encrusted in limestone and is having its surface layers devoured by its deceased host star. The team found that the rocky material being accreted by the star could be comprised of minerals that are typically associated with marine life processes here on Earth.
Surrounded by an envelope of dust, the subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a young pre-main-sequence star known as HBC 1. The star is in an immature and adolescent phase of life, hence its classification — most of a Sun-like star’s life is spent in a stage comparable to human adulthood dubbed the main sequence.