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Hubble Captures Barred Spiral Galaxy Image

GREENBELT, Md., Feb. 3 (UPI) — NASA and the European Space Agency say a Hubble image of a barred spiral galaxy will help astronomers understand more about our own Milky Way galaxy.

Most spiral galaxies in the universe, including our home galaxy, have a bar structure in their center, and Hubble’s image of NGC 1073 offers a particularly clear view of one of these, reported Friday.

The presence of such a structure may be an indication of a galaxy’s age since two-thirds of younger galaxies nearby have such a bar while only a fifth of older, more distant spiral galaxies possess it, astronomers said.

Galaxies’ central star-filled bars are thought to be created by gravitational waves funneling gas toward the galactic center where it forms new stars, and may also feed the supermassive black holes that lurk in the centers of almost every galaxy, they said.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

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