Snapshot: Hubble stares back at an eye-shaped galaxy

The iconic space telescope deploys multiple tools to glimpse colorful cosmic arrays such as this.
By | Published: March 24, 2022 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Sand, K. Sheth

In the constellation Fornax the Furnace resides the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097, which resembles a burning or bloodshot eye in this shot taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. To capture the intricate dust lanes intermixed with innumerable stars, Hubble utilized two instruments and several filters, ensuring a more magnificent — and scientifically informative — image.

Located about 48 million light-years from Earth, NGC 1097 is weaved together by veiny, dark red dust peppered with a litany of stars throughout. At its core resides a supermassive black hole some 140 million times the mass of the Sun, immediately surrounded by brightly glowing star-forming regions. 

Hubble captured this view of NGC 1097 using its Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), along with seven different filters to emphasize each color. Multiple filtered exposures taken with both cameras were combined to reveal crisp details across a range of different wavelengths, resulting in an entrancing galactic gaze.