NASA Releases Incredible Photo of Spiral Galaxy With Hidden Feature Inside

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

NASA just keeps stealing the spotlight. With Hurricane Ian rapidly approaching Southern Florida, the space agency had to cancel the launch of their 4-billion-dollar Artemis I moon rocket for the third time on Monday. Prior launch attempts became stalled due to technical issues. Monday wasn’t a total loss for the space agency though. NASA was successful in impacting a small asteroid with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) which aims to test future planetary defense mechanisms. Now, NASA’s once again shown us the wonder of outer space. Amid the day’s excitement, they also released an incredible photo of a spiral galaxy with a special feature hidden within. Check it out.

Per NASA’s post, the spiral galaxy pictured above is identified simply as NGC 1961, and lies within the constellation Camelopardalis. While many galaxies, including our own Milky Way Galaxy, take on a mesmerizing spiral shape, NGC 1961 is unique.

First, characterized as both an intermediate spiral and active galactic nuclei, the faraway galaxy, some 80 million lightyears from Earth, is neither “barred” or “unbarred.” This simply means it lacks a “tight” bar of stars at its center as well as a strong spiral form.

Those features aside, what truly makes the jewel so unique is that, given its status as an active galactic nuclei, it boasts a super-bright center that outshines the rest of the galaxy. NASA states that this usually indicates there lies a supermassive black hole at the core. That black hole is known for bright jets of light and wind that further strengthen the galaxy’s spiral form.

Interestingly, the galaxy featured in NASA’s Monday post is not a new discovery in the slightest. In fact, The U.S. Sun states NGC 1961 was first discovered by William Herschel in 1788. Herschel is the famed English astronomer credited with discovering Uranus.

NASA Successfully Crashed DART Into Dimorphos Asteroid: What Comes Next?

NASA had plenty of reason to celebrate Monday evening as DART successfully impacted the asteroid Dimorphos.

Dimorphos, overall is relatively small, making up half of a double asteroid system it shares with the much larger Didymos. After initially launching the project in November of 2021, impact is the first of two steps toward a potential planetary defense system. While the fascinating footage of the impact gave NASA a close-up, firsthand look at Dimorphos, the entire point of the mission was to see whether the craft, about the size of a vending machine, traveled fast enough and hit hard enough to alter the asteroid’s course. So did it?

Unfortunately, we won’t know for several weeks. NASA reports Dimorphos’s original orbit lasts 12 hours. The goal was to shorten the little asteroid’s orbit, so even if Monday’s DART mission cuts several minutes off the overall orbit, NASA will consider it a success.