The Hubble Space Telescope captured what appears to be a galactic flying saucer floating in space.
The otherworldly image of IC 564 forms part of a pair of galactic oddballs called Arp 303, located about 275 million light-years away from us. (Arp refers to the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, originally cataloged at 338 members by Halton Arp in 1966.)
Arp members were originally chosen for their unusual galactic structure, which is easily visible with both IC 564 along with its companion, IC 563 (at lower right in the image showing the two galaxies.)
Hubble officials are going through the back catalog of data to assist with forthcoming observations of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA said in a May 27 statement. Of particular note is the "clumpy" starbirth regions visible in infrared light, which may give clues as to galactic formation overall.
This latest image holds information from two separate Hubble observations. The first examined infrared light using the telescope's Wide Field Camera, while the second was part of a survey of "bright, interesting galaxies" using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, NASA said.
While NASA did not directly say how this imagery will assist Webb, of note is the newer telescope's efforts to understand how galaxies were formed and evolved, particularly in the early universe.
Emerging areas of research in galaxies included how galaxies proliferated into the large variety visible today, the relationship between supermassive black holes and galaxies, and galactic mergers and collisions, according to a NASA webpage about forthcoming Webb research.
Some of the Webb Cycle 1 studies for galaxies will look at early galaxy formation, galaxies with "low metallicity" (rich in hydrogen and helium) and galaxy clusters to assist with its long-term quest to understand galactic evolution.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace