© ESA/NASA

23 of NASA’s most gorgeous galaxy pictures

NASA has been delighting us with beautiful images of space for decades, which means there is a treasure trove of galaxies for you to feast your eyes on - here are some of our favourite galaxy photos.

1

IC 3639

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESO/STScI
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESO/STScI

This vivid violet galaxy is filled with dust and gas that clouds a supermassive black hole at its core.

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2

NGC 7331

© NASA/CXC/CIERA/R.Margutti et al
© NASA/CXC/CIERA/R.Margutti et al

The Chandra X-ray Observatory took this unusual picture of the spiral galaxy NGC 7331, showing red, green and blue colours for low, medium and high-energy X-rays, respectively. An unusual supernova called SN 2014C has been spotted in this galaxy.

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3

NGC 1448

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey

Just like IC 3639 before it, NCG 1448 is another galaxy with a supermassive blackhole at its centre, shrouded by dust and gas.

4

NGC 4845

© NASA/ESA
© NASA/ESA

The black hole in this spiral galaxy’s centre, 65 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo, is not only supermassive, but also super hungry.  A huge flare spotted in 2013 suggests it devoured a brown dwarf or large planet that was many times larger than Jupiter, was caught in the black hole’s gravitational pull.

5

Kiso 5639

© NASA/Hubble
© NASA/Hubble

It looks like a rocket flying through the sky thanks to the left-hand side of this relatively small galaxy’s spectacular red glow, caused by a firestorm of star forming.

6

Messier 94

© ESA/NASA
© ESA/NASA

Galaxy M94 lies in the constellation of the Hunting Dogs, 16 million light-years away, and has an unusual feature called a starburst ring. Dust and gas is compressed from a pressure wave emanating from the core, causing them to form dense clouds until the pressure and temperature is high enough to form new stars.

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7

NGC 1291

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this beautiful photo of new stars forming in an infrared ring around NGC 1291’s galactic core.

8

NGC 4565

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

French comet hunter Charles Messier created a famous list of over 100 objects in the night sky that weren’t comets, so that other astronomers could avoid wasting time studying them. This one, also known as the Needle Galaxy, didn’t make the list.

9

NGC 6872

© NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS
© NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/ESO/JPL-Caltech/DSS

If you thought the Milky Way was big, at 522,000 light-years across NGC 6872 is five times bigger!

10

NGC 6744

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

The NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer captured the dizzying image of NGC 6744 swirling 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Pavo. The galaxy’s claim to fame is that it is one of the most similar to our Milky Way in the local Universe.

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11

NGC 253

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Barred Sculptor galaxy’s spiral arms were spotted by Spitzer, and is known as a starburst galaxy due to the strong star formation at its centre.

12

M31

© ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz
© ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz

At only 2.5 million light-years away, Andromeda (M31) is the closest major galaxy to the Milky Way.

13

IC 342

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/DSS
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/DSS

The Camelopardalis constellation is home to this galaxy, known as Caldwell 5, which was discovered by William Frederick Denning in 1895.

14

NGC 4736

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

This brilliant blue galaxy is number 94 of Messier’s objects, and although it looks like there are many rings encircling it, many astronomers believe there is only one.

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15

NGC 4594

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Say hola! to NGC 4594, more commonly known as the Sombrero galaxy due to its similar appearance to the popular Mexican hat.

16

M101

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/STScI/CXC
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/STScI/CXC

One of the last galaxies to enter Messier’s catalogue, the Pinwheel Galaxy lies 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major.

17

IC 342

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Swirling away in space, this galaxy is compared to a spider web by NASA. Although difficult to observe due to its closeness to the galactic equator, it is still apparently possible to see in the right conditions using only binoculars.

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18

NGC 5055

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

If you think the spiral arms of this 27 million light-year-away galaxy look a little like a pretty plant you’re not alone – as well as being known as M63, it’s also called the Sunflower Galaxy.

Maffei 2 You'll struggle to see this galaxy with an optical telescope as it is hidden by dust - it's not called the Hidden Galaxy for nothing! To see it in all its magnificence you need to use an infrared camera like the one on the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
20

M33

PIA13452-medium
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

It takes a WISE eye to spot the Triangulum galaxy – this photo was taken using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

21

NGC 4038/NGC 4039

© NASA, ESA, SAO, CXC, JPL-Caltech, and STScI Acknowledgment: G. Fabbiano and Z. Wang (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), and B. Whitmore (STScI)
© NASA, ESA, SAO, CXC, JPL-Caltech, and STScI Acknowledgment: G. Fabbiano and Z. Wang (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), and B. Whitmore (STScI)

This incredible image is not one but two galaxies colliding in an epic celestial smash that has lasted for 100 million years. The Antennae Galaxies are filled with black holes and neutron stars speeding up the evolution of stars.

22

NGC 2841

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Initially discovered by William Herschel in 1788, it was believed that this inclined unbarred spiral galaxy was 30 million light-years away, until the Hubble Space Telescope determined it was much further at 46 million light-years.

23

NGC 1097

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

This beautiful barred spiral galaxy is very active – three supernovae have been observed since 1992.


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