Galaxy full of cosmic lighthouses

Esahubble_potw1810a_1024

esahubble_potw1810a March 5th, 2018

Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU)

This enchanting spiral galaxy can be found in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear). Star-studded NGC 3972 lies about 65 million light-years away from the Earth, meaning that the light that we see now left it 65 million years ago, just when the dinosaurs became extinct. NGC 3972 has had its fair share of dramatic events. In 2011 astronomers observed the explosion of a type Ia supernova in the galaxy (not visible in this image). These dazzling objects all peak at the same brightness, and are brilliant enough to be seen over large distances. NGC 3972 also contains many pulsating stars called Cepheid variables. These stars change their brightness at a rate matched closely to their intrinsic luminosity, making them ideal cosmic lighthouses for measuring accurate distances to relatively nearby galaxies. Astronomers search for Cepheid variables in nearby galaxies which also contain a type Ia supernova so they can compare the true brightness of both types of stars. That brightness information is used to calibrate the luminosity of Type Ia supernovae in far-flung galaxies so that astronomers can calculate the galaxies' distances from Earth. Once astronomers know accurate distances to galaxies near and far, they can determine and refine the expansion rate of the Universe. This image was taken in 2015 with Hubbles Wide Field Camera 3, as part of a project to improve the precision of the Hubble constant a figure that describes the expansion rate of the Universe.

Provider: Hubble Space Telescope | ESA

Image Source: https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1810a/

Curator: ESA/Hubble, Garching bei München, None, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
NGC 3972
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Type > Spiral
Esahubble_potw1810a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 11h 55m 45.2s
DEC = 55° 19’ 14.4”
Orientation
North is 5.1° CCW
Field of View
2.4 x 1.8 arcminutes
Constellation
Ursa Major

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_luminosity Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (Long Pass) 350.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Infrared (H) 1.6 µm
Arrow_left_green Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (I) 814.0 nm
Arrow_left_blue Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (V) 555.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Arrow_top_luminosity
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_blue
Esahubble_potw1810a_1280
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ID
potw1810a
Subject Category
C.5.1.1  
Subject Name
NGC 3972
Credits
NASA, ESA, A. Riess (STScI/JHU)
Release Date
2018-03-05T06:00:00
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
https://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1810a/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope
Instrument
WFC3, WFC3, WFC3, WFC3
Color Assignment
Luminosity, Red, Green, Blue
Band
Optical, Infrared, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
Long Pass, H, I, V
Central Wavelength
350, 1600, 814, 555
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
None, None, None, None
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
178.938318283, 55.3206717236
Reference Dimension
4853.0, 3640.0
Reference Pixel
2397.0452837, 1732.48232994
Scale
-8.3199e-06, 8.3199e-06
Rotation
5.11746491623
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
ESA/Hubble
URL
http://www.spacetelescope.org
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
None
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
ESA/Hubble
Publisher ID
esahubble
Resource ID
potw1810a
Metadata Date
2018-03-02T13:21:31+01:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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There is no distance meta data in this image.