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News Release 32 of 45

May 11, 2000 01:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2000-14

Hubble Heritage Program Wins Photography Award

A Hubble Heritage Release

May 11, 2000: Through an extraordinary chance alignment, the Hubble telescope has captured a view of a face-on spiral galaxy lying precisely in front of another larger spiral. The unique pair is called NGC 3314. This line-up provides astronomers with the rare chance to see the dark material within the foreground galaxy, seen only because it is silhouetted against the light from the object behind it. NGC 3314 lies about 140 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the southern hemisphere constellation Hydra. This picture is one of many produced by the Hubble Heritage Program, created 1-1/2 years ago to publicly release some of the best celestial views taken by the telescope's visible-light camera. Now, the International Center of Photography in New York City has rewarded the program for its work with the annual Infinity Award for Applied Photography.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. What are the interesting features in this picture?

  2. The spiral arms of the foreground galaxy appear dark where the dust is silhouetted against the light from the more distant galaxy. The bright blue stars forming a pinwheel shape near the center of the foreground galaxy have formed recently from interstellar gas and dust.

    A small, red patch near the center of the image is the bright nucleus of the background galaxy. It is reddened for the same reason the setting sun looks red. When light passes through a volume containing small particles (molecules in the Earth's atmosphere or interstellar dust particles in galaxies), its color becomes redder.

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Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)