Space

NASA's Hubble gallery of Messier objects just got bigger and more beautiful

NASA's Hubble gallery of Messi...
The colorful spiral galaxy M95, as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope
The colorful spiral galaxy M95, as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope
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The barred spiral galaxy M58, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope
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The barred spiral galaxy M58, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope
M59 – a large elliptical galaxy located roughly 60 million light-years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster
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M59 – a large elliptical galaxy located roughly 60 million light-years from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster
The irregularly shaped globular cluster M62 is located roughly 22,000 light-years from Earth, and boasts a core comprised of 150,000 stellar bodies
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The irregularly shaped globular cluster M62 is located roughly 22,000 light-years from Earth, and boasts a core comprised of 150,000 stellar bodies
The globular cluster M75 is comprised of around 400,000 stars, and is thought to be roughly 13 billion years old
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The globular cluster M75 is comprised of around 400,000 stars, and is thought to be roughly 13 billion years old
Image of M86, which is either an elliptical galaxy, or a cross between and elliptical and a spiral galaxy, known as a lenticular galaxy
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Image of M86, which is either an elliptical galaxy, or a cross between and elliptical and a spiral galaxy, known as a lenticular galaxy
An image of the elliptical galaxy M89, created from near-infrared and visible light observations made by the Hubble space telescope
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An image of the elliptical galaxy M89, created from near-infrared and visible light observations made by the Hubble space telescope
Hubble image of M90, a spiral galaxy located 59 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo
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Hubble image of M90, a spiral galaxy located 59 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo
The colorful spiral galaxy M95, as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope
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The colorful spiral galaxy M95, as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope
A section of the galaxy M98, captured by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2
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A section of the galaxy M98, captured by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2
Image of M108, also known as the Surfboard galaxy, which is located roughly 46 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major
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Image of M108, also known as the Surfboard galaxy, which is located roughly 46 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major
An image of M110 – a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31)
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An image of M110 – a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31)
At its heart, the spiral galaxy M88 (pictured) plays host to a supermassive black hole roughly 100 million times the mass of our Sun
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At its heart, the spiral galaxy M88 (pictured) plays host to a supermassive black hole roughly 100 million times the mass of our Sun
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NASA has added a further 12 images to its already stunning Hubble gallery of Messier deep-sky objects. The updated collection highlights the technological strides that humanity has made since Charles Messier looked to the heavens and created his famous catalog, that now allow us to appreciate the true beauty and nature of the deep-sky objects.

Most of the objects contained in the Messier catalog were discovered by famed astronomer Charles Messier in the mid-1700s. At the time of its creation, Messier had been searching for comets – relatively small but bright icy bodies that often trail a magnificent tail that can be visible without the aid of a telescope.

As Messier combed the sky in search of these celestial wanderers, he would sometimes get distracted by fuzzy grey objects, which are known today to be distant galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. Even back then, Messier knew that these intruders where in fact not wandering comets because they remained static against the backdrop of more distant stars, rather than travelling across them as a true comet would.

The barred spiral galaxy M58, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope
The barred spiral galaxy M58, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope

Messier documented the faux comets, as he viewed them, in an attempt to help his fellow astronomers avoid confusing them for the real thing. Whilst they may have been a nuisance to Messier at the time, present day astronomers consider many of the objects detailed in the catalog to be some of the most visually striking and fascinating astronomical objects visible from our planet's Northern Hemisphere.

The revised Messier catalog contains 110 objects ranging from stunning nebulae to chaotic star clusters, and enormous spiral galaxies. NASA's Hubble Messier gallery reveals some of the greatest images ever taken of a number of the celestial objects, including M104, also known as the Sombrero Galaxy, and the dramatic Crab Nebula (M1), which was the first deep-sky object to be recorded by Messier in his now-famous catalog.

A further 12 Hubble images have recently been added to the collection, including vistas of two stunning globular star clusters and a plethora of galaxies, bringing the grand total of Messier objects in the Hubble collection up to 76.

An image of the elliptical galaxy M89, created from near-infrared and visible light observations made by the Hubble space telescope
An image of the elliptical galaxy M89, created from near-infrared and visible light observations made by the Hubble space telescope

Among the galaxies included in the new addition is the spiral galaxy M58, which, located roughly 62 million light-years from Earth, is the most distant of the Messier objects. The core of M58 is ablaze with the light of young stars, while the ominous sweeping arms of the barred spiral galaxy hold relatively little evidence of star formation.

The structure of other galaxies included in the release are less obvious than that of M58, with some, including the elliptical galaxy M89, appearing as little more than a hazy bloom of light shining against the darkness of space. Hidden within its ill-defined shape are roughly 100 billion stars, including 2,000 globular clusters.

Head to our photo gallery to see the new additions to the Hubble gallery for yourself.

Source: NASA

View gallery - 12 images
1 comment
Gregg Eshelman
This is why there needs to be a project to keep Hubble going.