NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spots the 'Little Sombrero' galaxy in a new image

The iconic orbital observatory was believed to be at the end of its life.
Loukia Papadopoulos

In June of 2021, things weren't looking good for Hubble, the world-renowned telescope that has become synonymous with NASA. The agency had announced that both of the legacy telescope's computers — the main payload and the backup one — were suffering from a severe glitch.

Several near-death experiences

This wasn't the only issue with Hubble. In fact, the telescope has suffered several near-death experiences in recent years that had operators wondering if the device was finally nearing the end of its lifetime. After all, it has been in operation for more than 31 years making historic space observations. Its hardware was now starting to show its age via a number of technical issues that have ceased operations on a number of occasions.

Indeed, most recently, it looked like the device may never work again. Then, in April of 2022, a pleasant surprise came out of the telescope. The iconic orbital observatory captured a fascinating new image of a galaxy with an active black hole and massive dark dust tendrils.

The Little Sombrero

Now, Hubble is making news again with another image of a galaxy referred to as the “Little Sombrero,” also known as NGC 7814 or Caldwell 43. The galaxy takes its name after the Mexican hat it so closely resembles.

It is roughly 40 million light-years from Earth, 80,000 light-years wide, and billions of years old. In the Little Sombrero image, viewers can witness a bright central bulge, a thin disk full of dust, and a glowing halo of gas and stars. 

But it's not the only galaxy to be named after a hat.

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The grander-appearing Sombrero galaxy is located just 28 million light-years away and looks larger than but similar to the Little Sombrero. The two Sombrero galaxies are actually nearly the same size, but the Sombrero, being closer to Earth, appears bigger.

What other surprises might Hubble have for us? We will just have to wait and see.