NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a spectacular image of Messier 90 in the constellation of Virgo, a beautiful spiral galaxy located about 60 million light years from our own Milky Way.
This galaxy is particularly interesting for astronomers because it is one of the few that have been observed traveling to the Milky Way, not far from it.
Scientists know it because the light that shines from the galaxy is "blueshifted."
Essentially, this means that the wavelength of this light is compressed as it gets closer to us, which decreases the wavelength and pushes it towards the blue end of the visible spectrum.
This change of blues contrasts with the way we see most of the galaxies in the universe. Because space is constantly expanding, the vast majority of the galaxies we see are moving away from us. As a result, its light is "redshifted", which means that it suffers an increase in the wavelength that pushes it towards the red end of the spectrum.
Messier 90 is part of Virgo Cluster, a vast collection of galaxies with more than 1,200 known members. It is the largest cluster of galaxies closest to the Milky Way.
Scientists believe that the peculiar direction of Messier 90's journey could be explained by the enormous mass of the group in which he resides. This mass would be able to accelerate the individual galaxies at high speeds, sending them in strange orbits that can move them away from us over time.
In general, the Virgo Group is moving away from us, and many of the galaxies within it seem to travel at very high speeds in this direction. However, some of its galaxies, such as Messier 90, are moving at fast speeds in the opposite direction, so they appear to be moving toward Earth.
The image of Messier 90 was captured by the Wide Field and the Planetary Camera 2 of Hubble, which collects a combination of infrared, ultraviolet and visible light and was operative between 1994 and 2010.
Hubble, which is jointly operated by NASA and ESA, was launched in 1990, and has since been responsible for producing some of the most dramatic images in our universe. While it is not the first space observatory to be launched, it is one of the largest and most versatile still used.