Cropped image of the Jellyfish galaxy. NASA.

Hubble Reveals Stunning ‘Jellyfish’ Galaxy and its Star-Forming Tentacles

This is pure cosmic art by the Hubble space telescope.


Unraveling the Mystery of JW100

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a mesmerizing image of galaxy JW100, which is over 800 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. Resembling a cosmic jellyfish, the galaxy features streams of star-forming gas that appear to drip from its disk, a result of a process called ram pressure stripping. This phenomenon has led astronomers to nickname JW100 a “jellyfish” galaxy.

The Intricacies of Ram Pressure Stripping

Ram pressure stripping occurs when galaxies encounter the diffuse gas permeating galaxy clusters. As they plow through this sparse gas, it behaves like a headwind, stripping away gas and dust from the galaxy and forming the trailing streamers prominently adorning JW100. The bright elliptical patches in the image represent other galaxies within the same cluster that hosts JW100.

The galaxy JW100 features prominently in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Gullieuszik and the GASP team.
The galaxy JW100 features prominently in the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Gullieuszik and the GASP team.

IC 5338: The Brightest Galaxy in the Cluster

Two bright blotches surrounded by an astonishingly luminous area of diffuse light can be seen towards the top of the image. This is the core of IC 5338, the brightest galaxy within the cluster. IC 5338 is an elliptical galaxy with an extended halo, known as a cD galaxy. These galaxies typically grow by consuming smaller ones, so multiple nuclei are not uncommon, as their cores can take a long time to be absorbed. The galaxy’s outer fringes are studded with a rich population of globular star clusters.

Hubble’s Contribution to Space Exploration

The Hubble Space Telescope has significantly advanced our understanding of the cosmos. This particular observation, which utilized Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, is part of a series designed to explore star formation in the tendrils of jellyfish galaxies. By studying these tendrils, which represent star formation under extreme conditions, astronomers can gain valuable insights into the process of star formation throughout the universe. Hubble’s discoveries have greatly expanded our knowledge of celestial phenomena, shedding light on the formation and evolution of galaxies, the life cycle of stars, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Its breathtaking images have also inspired generations of scientists and space enthusiasts to delve deeper into the mysteries of the cosmos.


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Written by Justin Gurkinic

Hey, my name is Justin, and my friends call me Gurk. Why? Becuase of my last name. It sounds like a vegetable. Kind of. I love sleeping and writing. History is my thing.

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