The Hubble Space Telescope, 26 years old and counting, is still managing to find some of the most beautiful objects strewn far away in the cosmos. Case in point: Hubble recently turned its Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) toward the Grus constellation, also known as the Crane, and took this photo of the gorgeous spiral galaxy IC 5201.
Located over 40 million light-years from Earth, IC 5201 is a barred spiral galaxy, a lot like our own Milky Way. Arms spiral out from the center of the galaxy, while a bar of stars cuts through the middle. Two-thirds of spiral galaxies have a bar, a feature scientists believe indicates a spiral galaxy is fully developed.
The Grus constellation is typically only visible in the Southern Hemisphere, and IC 5201 was first described in 1900. The ACS, installed on Hubble back in 2002, has enough power to capture individual stars in IC 5201. That allows scientists to study every star in the galaxy and learn more about star formation and galaxy aging.
Hubble has another five years to capture the cosmos, so we can expect even more data on galaxies like IC 5201 to come in.