Hubble snaps stunning barred spiral galaxy image

Galaxy NGC 1073 NGC 1073 lies in the Cetus (a sea monster in Greek mythology) constellation

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The Hubble space telescope has captured an image of a "barred spiral" galaxy that could help us better understand our own Milky Way.

Most of the known spiral galaxies fall into this "barred" category - which are defined by the pronounced bar structure across their centres.

The presence of this structure may be an indication of a galaxy's age.

Two-thirds of nearby galaxies have the bar, while only a fifth of more distant spirals have it.

The new picture also continues the Hubble space telescope's long heritage of striking astronomical images.

In the upper left of the image is a cluster showing recent star formation that is just visible to Hubble's cameras.

But it is a bright source in X-ray light; astronomers believe that this IXO-5 X-ray source is actually a "binary" system comprising a star and a black hole in mutual orbit.

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