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'Hidden Galaxy' reveals itself in lovely Hubble image

A galaxy that's very good at hiding gives up its secrets to the eagle eye of the Hubble Space Telescope.

IC 342, Hidden Galaxy
Hubble sees through the veil to get a look at the "Hidden Galaxy."
ESA/Hubble & NASA

Galaxy IC 342 is playing a celestial game of hide-and-go-seek with our telescopes. 

The bright galaxy sits about 13 million light-years from Earth. That's relatively close, but its particular position in space makes it hard to capture a good image of it. A newly released Hubble Space Telescope picture shows elusive IC 342, which is nicknamed the "Hidden Galaxy." NASA shared the image on Friday.

The European Space Agency notes, "the galaxy sits near the equator of the Milky Way's galactic disk, where the sky is thick with glowing cosmic gas, bright stars, and dark, obscuring dust." IC 342 is a hotbed of activity, with forming stars, gas and dust melding into a spiral shape around the galaxy's bright center. The Hubble image is a zoomed-in look at this central area.

Colors are key to understanding what's happening in the Hubble image. The bluish parts are hot, star-forming areas. Redder locations are cooler and full of gas. The darker swathes depict areas of dust. 

The "Hidden Galaxy" image joins an impressive lineup of Hubble pictures, including this look at two galaxies colliding and a peek at two scenic spiral galaxies.