Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space telescope.
Finally, we get a view of our home, the Milky Way galaxy from above!
Yep, just kidding obviously but old UGC 12158 here is about as close to what we believe the Milky Way looks like as you’re going to come across and we’re also fortunate to have a great face-on view of it. At nearly 140,000 light years in diameter this big fella is 40-50% larger than the Milky Way and its receding away from us at a blinding 9,300 km or 5,779 mi. every second! Even at that speed it will take a few million years to even notice a trace difference in its 4g44 apparent size on our sky…..if we’re still here then.
Interested in how we know what our galaxy looks like even though we can’t step out of it? https://danspace77.com/2014/02/21/lets-have-a-look-around-our-house/
Also at the top of the image are two bright stars as well as two more bright stars at the outer edge of the galaxy at about the 9 or 10 o’clock position. Those are foreground stars located here in our own Milky Way. If you’re taking a picture of something far away and someone throws a handful of sand in the air between your camera and the object you’re bound to get a few grains in the image. That’s no different here; we can’t move the stars in our galaxy so inherently they find their way into images of the distant universe as we peer through.
If you enlarge this image you will also see many, probably a hundred background galaxies, some further away and some still close enough to where you can make out their shapes. But if you look near the center of this galaxy, just slightly low left you will see a bright blue star. That’s actually a Type 1a supernova cataloged as SN 2004ef which was discovered on September 4, 2004 by British amateurs Tom Boles and Mark Armstrong.
FYI: Type 1a supernova is when a white dwarf star leeches material from its partner star until it reaches roughly 1.4 solar masses which is called the Chandrasekhar limit aaaaaaand BOOM!
NAME: UGC 12158
WHAT IS IT?: Barred spiral galaxy.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: 400 million light years.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Roughly 140,000 light years in diameter.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE: Pretty dim 9.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Pegasus (The Winged Horse).
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 22h 42m 10s / DEC +19d 59’ 40”.
ESA Hubble Space Telescope page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1035a/