The Cosmic Fireworks of the Galaxy NGC 6984

This week’s image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features galaxy NGC 6984, an elegant spiral galaxy in the constellation Indus, about 200 million light years away from Earth. The galaxy is a familiar sight for Hubble, having already been captured in 2013 . The long spiral arms are intertwined with delicate dark lines of gas and dust, and studded with bright stars and luminous star-forming regions.

These new observations were made after an extremely rare astronomical event – ​​a double supernova in NGC 6984. Supernovas are unimaginably violent explosions on a truly vast scale, precipitated by the death of massive stars. These events are powerful, but rare and fleeting – a single supernova can overshadow its host galaxy for a brief period. The discovery of two supernovas at virtually the same time and location (in astronomical terms) has led to speculation by astronomers that the two supernovas may somehow be physically linked. Using optical and ultraviolet observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, astronomers sought to get a better view of the location of the two supernovae, hopefully allowing them to discover whether the two supernova explosions were in fact linked. Their findings could give astronomers important clues about the life of binary stars.

In addition to helping unravel an astronomical mystery, these new observations added more data to the 2013 observations and allowed this landmark new image to be created. The observations – each of which only cover a narrow range of wavelengths – add new detail and a wider range of colors to the image.


ESA / Hubble and NASA, D. Milisavljevic