NASA Discovers New Galaxy Hiding a Very Dark History


| LAST UPDATE 01/16/2022

By Sharon Renee
NASA space news galaxy
Contributor/Getty Images

150 million light-years away, a seemingly peaceful constellation lights up the night sky. With bright white hues and clouds of cosmic dust, the distant galaxy incurs a sense of tranquility for those who stumble upon it. Only as researchers recently found out, its rich backstory is anything but. Here's what scientists uncovered after discovering a new galaxy halfway across the universe.

On January 14, NASA, along with the help of the ESA, first announced the striking discovery: a new galaxy, spotted by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Dubbed NGC 976, the new finding was, no doubt, a sight for sore eyes. As a matter of fact, its colorful light show, scattered across the constellation Aries, was almost impossible to miss after being picked up on satellite.

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But not everything was as it seemed when it came to the shimmery sight: as NASA further revealed, "despite its tranquil appearance, NGC 976 has played host to one of the most violent astronomical phenomena... a supernova explosion." For those unfamiliar, a supernova explosion comes when a star has reached its full life cycle. Upon its death, such a constellation goes out with a bang - in every sense of the word. Not only do these dying stars emit an enormously powerful eruption, but the explosive occurrence is also very violent - destroying everything in its path. "These cataclysmically violent events take place at the end of the lives of massive stars and can outshine entire galaxies for a short period," as NASA elaborated. Nonetheless, the blinding occurrence also marks a new beginning. "While supernovae mark the deaths of massive stars, they are also responsible for the creation of heavy elements that are incorporated into later generations of stars and planets."

NASA Hubble galaxy supernova
NASA/Handout/Getty Images

But that's not the only role supernovas play. According to NASA, the phenomena can also help researchers measure the distance of remote galaxies, such as NGC 976. And with the James Webb Space Telescope now deployed, who knows what other galaxies - or discoveries - await us? Stay tuned.

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