NASA’s Hubble space telescope has spotted a ‘galactic traffic jam’ more than 60 million light-years away.
Barred spiral galaxy NGC 3887 is located in the southern constellation of Crater (the Cup). The galaxy was discovered in 1785 by astronomer William Herschel.
A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals about 6 trillion miles.
“The very existence of spiral arms was for a long time a problem for astronomers,” explained NASA, on its website. “The arms emanate from a spinning core and should therefore become wound up ever more tightly, causing them to eventually disappear after a (cosmologically) short amount of time. It was only in the 1960s that astronomers came up with the solution to this winding problem; rather than behaving like rigid structures, spiral arms are in fact areas of greater density in a galaxy’s disk, with dynamics similar to those of a traffic jam.”
A joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency, the Hubble telescope has captured a host of beautiful images since its launch in 1990. In 2012, NASA released an image of a double nucleus in the Andromeda Galaxy that was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. A Hubble image released in 2014 showed a double nucleus in spiral galaxy Messier 83.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers