Space Phantom (photo)

This spectacular picture was published on the website of the Hubble mission. It shows the spiral galaxy M74, also known informally as the Phantom Galaxy.
Galaxy M74 (Hubble photo). Source: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar

M74 is located 32 million light-years from the Milky Way in the direction of the Pisces constellation. In the Hubble image, you can see its spiral arms decorated by many pink formations resembling flowers. These are regions of active star formation. They are huge clouds of hydrogen that glow due to the ultraviolet radiation of young stars hidden inside them.

The Phantom Galaxy is also home to three supernovae observed in the 21st century. The last of them exploded in 2013.

The image of M74 was taken as part of a project to study the evolution of spiral galaxies around the Milky Way. Astronomers use star clusters for this. Determining their age, they date different parts of galaxies, which allows us to trace the history of their formation. Scientists are also studying the distribution of dust. In the Hubble image, it is shown as dark filaments wrapping around M74’s spiral arms.

In addition to their quest to understand the history of spiral galaxies, astronomers are also studying M74 to complement observations from other telescopes. Combining data obtained by instruments that operate in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum allows gathering much more information than using a single observatory. M74 is among the first targets for the James Webb Space Telescope.

Based on materials from