This spiral galaxy photo from the Hubble Space Telescope is just spectacular

stunning spiral galaxy photo with stars seen by hubble telescope
This stunning photo of the spiral galaxy NGC 1961 was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on Sept. 14, 2022. It is an intermediate spiral galaxy located 180 million light-years from Earth. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton (University of Washington), R. Foley (University of California - Santa Cruz); Image processing: G. Kober (NASA Goddard/Catholic University of America))

A new photo from the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the stunning structure of a distant spiral galaxy. 

The galaxy, called NGC 1961, is classified as an intermediate spiral galaxy with an active galactic nucleus (AGN). It is located about 180 million light-years away in the constellation Camelopardalis.

"The galaxy NGC 1961 unfurls its gorgeous spiral arms in this newly released image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope," according to a statement (opens in new tab) from the space agency. "Glittering, blue regions of bright young stars dot the dusty spiral arms winding around the galaxy's glowing center." 

Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images of all time!

A full view of the spiral galaxy NGC 1961 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton (University of Washington), R. Foley (University of California - Santa Cruz); Image processing: G. Kober (NASA Goddard/Catholic University of America))

AGN galaxies have very bright centers that can outshine the rest of the galaxy due to the presence of a supermassive black hole at its core. The supermassive black hole pulls in material from its surroundings and releases vast amounts of radiation in the form of bright jets and winds, which fuel the galaxy's active nucleus. 

The recent Hubble observations suggest NGC 1961 is a fairly common type of AGN that emits low-energy-charged particles, NASA officials wrote in the statement. 

Classified as an intermediate spiral galaxy, NGC 1961 lacks a well-defined central bar-shaped structure made of stars, which typically acts like a funnel, pulling matter into the galaxy's core from the surrounding accretion disk. With a medium-sized nucleus, NGC 1961 falls between an unbarred and barred spiral galaxy. 

NASA shared the new photo of NGC 1961 on Sept. 14. The Hubble data used to create the image was collected as part of other work on Arp galaxies and supernovas, according to the statement. 

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Samantha Mathewson
Contributing Writer

Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.