Hubble Zooms In on 'Galactic Soup' Ingredients

The space telescope has zoomed in on a galactic pair that are gravitationally disturbing one another's stellar populations. Continue reading →

As the Hubble Space Telescope stares deep into the cosmos, there's not one spot in the sky (no matter how apparently "empty" it appears) that isn't filled with thousands of galaxies. Indeed, the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field observation of a nondescript portion of inky black space is buzzing with exquisite galaxies of all shapes and sizes.

Often these Hubble observations can look like a "soup" - where the ingredients are countless galaxies, each one filled with billions of stars. Now Hubble has zoomed in on a couple of these galactic ingredients, showing just how strange some of the galaxies billions of light-years away can appear.

PHOTOS: Hubble's Latest Mind Blowing Cosmic Pictures

Shown here are two galactic objects that don't appear to conform to the elegant structure of spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way. Called 2MASX J16133219+5103436 (bottom) and its bluish companion SDSS J161330.18+510335 (top), together they make up a galactic pair called Zw I 136. As a comparison, a clearly defined spiral galaxy can be seen to the right of the image.

The galactic pair are located in close proximity to one another, and they appear to be interacting gravitationally. Both are disturbed, with extended, fuzzy halos of stars being tugged away from their galactic homes.

BIG PIC: Hubble Spies Colliding Galaxies Tied in Stellar Pearls

For us to better understand galactic evolution and how that evolution corresponds to their shape and star formation, galactic pairs such as this are important to study, an endeavor that Hubble continues to provide mind blowing imagery for.


Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope's famous Ultra-Deep Field (UDF) observation,

astronomers have been able to deduce at what age spiral galaxies acquire their spiral structure

. Since its launch in 1990, the veteran observatory has studied countless galaxies, but some of the most striking images are that of the majestic spirals that pervade the entire observable universe. In this celebration of spiral galaxies and Hubble's prowess at imaging them, we've collected some of our favorite galactic views from the space telescope's archives.

NEWS: When Did Galaxies Get Their Spirals?

In this majestic image, phenomenal detail in galaxy

NGC 2841

's spiraling dust lanes have been captured.

Spiral galaxy

NGC 5866

as seen nearly edge-on from Hubble's perspective. The dark galactic dust silhouettes the bright galactic core.


unnamed spiral galaxy

located deep within the Coma Cluster of galaxies, around 320 million light-years away in the northern constellation Coma Berenices, shows off some intricate detail in its arms.

The famous

Sombrero galaxy

(Messier 104) is an edge-on spiral galaxy -- the "rim" of the sombrero is thick lanes of dust obscuring the galaxy's starlight.


is another spiral galaxy not too dissimilar to our Milky Way. Young, bluish stars track along the galaxy's majestic arms, while older, redder stars cluster in its bright core.

This unique view of


is a combination of Hubble data and photographs taken by astrophotographer Robert Gendler.

The 'classic' spiral

Whirlpool Galaxy

gravitationally interacts with a neighboring galaxy, refining its very clear spiral arms.

To celebrate Hubble's 21st year in space, astronomers released this striking image of a pair of interacting galaxies called

Arp 273

. (Image rotated)

The 3 galaxies of

Arp 274

appear to be very close to one another, but astronomers believe that they are far apart and only overlapping from our perspective.


UGC 10214

is undergoing some violent gravitational disturbances after a suspected galactic collision. The creation of the stream of stars post-collision appear as a tail, giving the galaxy "The Tadpole" moniker.

To see full-resolution images and more detail on the galaxies showcased here, browse the mindblowing online Hubble album.