The spiral galaxy, dubbed NGC 7513, sits roughly 60 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor. But the galaxy is moving away from us, flying through space more than 500 times faster than Earth orbits the Sun. The galaxy was photographed by NASA’s and the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Hubble Space Telescope.
Hubble’s astronomers said: “Located approximately 60 million light-years away, NGC 7513 lies within the Sculptor constellation in the southern hemisphere.
“This galaxy is moving at the astounding speed of 1,546 kilometres per second, and it is heading away from us.
“For context, the Earth orbits the Sun at about 30 kilometres per second.
“Though NGC 7153’s apparent movement from the Milky Way might seem strange, it is not that unusual.”
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Because the universe is constantly expanding, the distance between galaxies is always growing.
However, in some cases, the distances between galaxies can shrink if they are gravitationally locked onto one another.
The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, for example, are slowly drifting towards one another.
The galaxies are expected to collide in an estimated 4.5 billion years – about the same time our Sun is expected to start dying.
But the vast majority of galaxies in the observable universe appear to be moving away from one another.
This galaxy is moving at the astounding speed of 1,546 kilometres per second
Astronomers attribute this to the expansion of the universe – a phenomenon that appears to be accelerating.
The expansion does not mean space is expanding into anything but rather the scale of spacetime itself is changing.
In 2016, Hubble astronomers found the universe may be expanding five to nine percent faster than previously thought.
The astronomers placed the expansion rate at 45.5 miles per second per megaparsec or 45.5 miles per second per 3.26 million light-years.
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In other words, every 3.26 million light-years of distance, galaxies appear to be moving faster.
For example, a galaxy three megaparsecs away appears to be moving three times as fast as a galaxy one parsec away.
The value is known as the Hubble Constant after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble who was the first to observe the expansion in action.
In an expanding universe, celestial bodies are all moving away from one another at the same time.
One way to imagine it is to place dots on a balloon and then blowing it up.
But there are still many unknowns about the expansion rate that boggle the experts.
In 2019, astronomers using the Hubble telescope found a mismatch between different methods used to calculate the expansion rate.
The astronomers determined the mismatch is not a fluke and some new and baffling physics might be at play.
Nobel laureate Adam Riess said: “The Hubble tension between the early and late universe may be the most exciting development in cosmology in decades.
“This mismatch has been growing and has now reached a point that is really impossible to dismiss as a fluke.
“This disparity could not plausibly occur just by chance.”
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