NGC 4013


An amazing “edge-on” view of a spiral galaxy 55 million
light years from Earth has been captured by the Hubble Space
Telescope. The image, available at , reveals in great
detail huge clouds of dust and gas extending along and above
the galaxy’s main disk.

The image was taken by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary
Camera 2, which was designed and built by NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The galaxy, called NGC 4013, lies in the direction of the
constellation Ursa Major. If we could see it pole-on, it
would look like a nearly circular pinwheel. In this Hubble
image, NGC 4013 is seen edge-on, from our vantage point.
Because the galaxy is larger than Hubble’s field of view, the
image shows only a little more than half the object, but with
unprecedented detail.

Dark clouds of interstellar dust stand out, since they
absorb the light of background stars. Most of the clouds lie
in the galaxy’s plane and form the dark band, about 500 light
years thick, that appears to cut the galaxy in two from upper
right to lower left. Scientists believe that new stars form
in dark interstellar clouds. NGC 4013 shows several examples
of these stellar kindergartens near the center of the image,
in front of the dark band along the galaxy’s equator. One
extremely bright star near the upper left corner is merely a
nearby foreground star that lies in our Milky Way and happened
to be in the line of sight.

This new picture was constructed from Hubble images taken
in January 2000 by Dr. J. Christopher Howk of Johns Hopkins
University, Baltimore, Md., and Dr. Blair D. Savage of the
University of Wisconsin-Madison. Images taken through three
different filters have been combined into a color composite
covering the region of the galaxy nucleus (behind the bright
foreground star at the upper left) and extending along one
edge of the galaxy to the lower right.

The Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.,
manages space operations for the Hubble Space Telescope for
NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The
Institute is operated by the Association of Universities for
Research in Astronomy Inc., for NASA under contract with
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The Hubble
Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation
between NASA and the European Space Agency. JPL is a division
of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Additional information about the Hubble Space Telescope
is available at . More information about
the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 is available at .