The remarkable image illustrated in this news release was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a robust instrument set up on the telescope in 2009. WFC3 is the reason behind a number of Hubble’s most stunning and iconic photographs.
NGC 7773 is a striking example of a barred spiral galaxy. A luminous bar-shaped structure cuts obviously through the galaxy's bright core, extending to the inner boundary of NGC 7773’s sweeping, pinwheel-like spiral arms. Astronomers believe that these bar structures appear later in a galaxy’s lifetime, as star-forming material finds its way towards the galactic center — younger spirals do not exhibit barred structures as frequently as older spirals do, signifying that bars are an indication of galactic maturity. They are also said to behave as stellar nurseries, as they gleam luminously with numerous youthful stars.
The Milky Way galaxy is believed to be a barred spiral like NGC 7773. By exploring galactic specimens such as NGC 7773 all over the universe, scientists expect to gather more information about the processes that have formed — and continue to form — the galaxy.