NASA has shared a breathing image of a hidden galaxy that sits near the equator of the Milky Way’s pearly disk. Captured by NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the spiral galaxy IC 342, also known as Caldwell 5, is located about 11 million light-years from Earth.
Discovered in the early 1890s, Caldwell 5 is obscured by so much interstellar material, making it very difficult to find in the sky. This earned it the nickname the Hidden Galaxy.
Hubble’s latest image shows a sparkling, face-on view of the galaxy’s center, which displays tendrils of dust entwined in dramatic arms that wrap around a glowing core of hot gas and stars. According to NASA, this nucleus is a specific type of region called the H II nucleus – an area of atomic hydrogen that has ionized. These regions are energy cradles of stars where thousands of stars can form in a few million years.
Caldwell 5 can be seen with a telescope in the clear night sky during late fall and early winter in the Northern Hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, only those near the equator will have a chance of spotting it low in the northern sky in late spring or early summer.
A hidden galaxy sits near the equator of the Milky Way’s disk, which is clogged with thick cosmic gas, black dust, and bright stars that obscure our view. @NASAHubble captured this view of IC 342, also known as Caldwell 5, about 11 million light-years away. https://t.co/bC46f9pgZn pic.twitter.com/IVJX3tMj60
— NASA Exoplanets (@NASAExoplanets) May 11, 2022
The Hubble Space Telescope is an international collaborative project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Launched on April 24, 1990, the space observatory has made more than 1.5 million observations of approximately 50,000 celestial objects and more than 19,000 scientific papers have been published by astronomers using Hubble data.