The tranquil spiral galaxy UGC 12295 studied by the Hubble telescope.


The tranquil spiral galaxy UGC 12295 studied by the Hubble telescope.

The tranquil spiral galaxy UGC 12295 is a mesmerizing sight from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Situated 192 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces, UGC 12295 almost looks face-on from Earth, with its bright central bar and tightly wound spiral arms. But don’t let its serene appearance fool you—this galaxy was home to a dramatic event in 2015, when a supernova exploded, disrupting the peace of this celestial body.

Supernovae are massive star explosions that form many of the elements found here on Earth. Two teams of astronomers used Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 to study the aftermath of UGC 12295’s supernova. The first team investigated the supernova’s detritus to learn more about the evolution of matter in our universe, while the second team went back to look at other nearby supernovae that have already been studied. With Hubble’s powerful vision, these astronomers sought to uncover lingering traces of such energetic events, providing more insight into the systems that host them.

Supernova may have destructive powers, but they are also crucial for helping us understand our universe and the laws of nature that govern it. Every element in our universe was created through the explosive death of a star, and by studying supernovae, scientists can learn about stellar evolution and even potentially detect other galaxies that may have been previously unknown. 

In addition, supernovae are often used as beacons to measure distances in space. By examining how long it takes light from different supernovae to reach Earth, scientists can calculate how far away they are from us. This type of measurement is called “standard candles” because it allows us to accurately gauge distances that are far beyond our own solar system. So although UGC 12295 may appear tranquil, its supernova was a critical event for our understanding of our universe.

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