NGC 976 lies approximately 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Aries.
Also known as IRAS 02311+2045, LEDA 9776 and UGC 2042, the galaxy has a diameter of 90,000 light-years.
NGC 976 was discovered in 1876 by the German astronomer Wilhelm Tempel.
“Despite its tranquil appearance, NGC 976 has played host to one of the most violent astronomical phenomena known — a supernova explosion,” the Hubble astronomers said.
“These cataclysmically violent events take place at the end of the lives of massive stars, and can outshine entire galaxies for a short period.”
“They are also responsible for the creation of heavy elements that are incorporated into later generations of stars and planets.”
“Supernovae are also a useful aid for astronomers who measure the distances to faraway galaxies,” they added.
“The amount of energy thrown out into space by supernova explosions is very uniform, allowing astronomers to estimate their distances from how bright they appear to be when viewed from Earth.”
“This image of NGC 976 comes from a large collection of Hubble observations of nearby galaxies which host supernovae as well as a pulsating class of stars known as Cepheid variables.”
“Both Cepheids and supernovae are used to measure astronomical distances, and galaxies containing both objects provide useful natural laboratories where the two methods can be calibrated against one another.”
The color image of NGC 976 was made from separate exposures taken in the visible and infrared regions of the spectrum with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).
Four filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter.