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Four-Armed Spiral Galaxy Spotted By Amateur Astronomers, Hubble Telescope

Four-Armed Spiral Galaxy

A bizarre four-armed spiral galaxy was spotted by amateur astronomers and the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope helped reveal the galaxy’s arms in stunning detail.

The galaxy, named Messier 106, is about 20 billion light-years from Earth in Ursa Major. Scientists with Hubble released a video of the strange galaxy as well as a new photo, reports Yahoo! News.

Normal spiral galaxies sport two arms, so Messier 106’s four-armed appearance is strange to astronomers. Under it’s beautiful pink appearance, the strange celestial creation is hiding a massive black hole that is working its way through the matter at the galaxy’s center.

Scientists believe that the black hole could be the key to the galaxy’s mysterious extra two arms. The arms are believed to be the reason for the galaxy’s black hole, which is producing two jets of material from the cloud of matter falling into it. These jets disrupt and heat up the gas inside the galaxy.

Space.com notes that the two extra arms appear bright pink in the latest photo. The images were captured by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, Wide Field Camera 3, and Planetary Camera 2. They were combined with ground-based observations conducted by amateur astronomers Robert Genderland and Jay GaBany.

Normal galaxy arms are created by stars, but Messier 160’s second pair of arms is created by gas instead. Their origin confused scientists until the most recent picture, which shows that they were likely an indirect result of the black hole’s gas. The galactic matter the jets disrupt and heat up glows brightly.

Check out the new video of the four-armed spiral galaxy below.

[Image via NASA / ESA / the Hubble Heritage Team / STScI / AURA / R. Gendler / J. GaBany]

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