NGC 4380
The galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film in this Hubble Picture of the Week, swirling like a gaping portal to another dimension. ESA/Hubble & NASA, P. Erwin

The Hubble Space Telescope operated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) released a beautiful photo of a massive spiral galaxy. Due to the appearance of the galaxy, the ESA noted that it resembled a giant space portal to another dimension.

The latest photo snapped by Hubble features the spiral galaxy also known as NGC 4380, which is located in the constellation Virgo. Like the Milky Way, NGC 4380 has long spindly arms that radiate from its centre, giving the galaxy a distinct spiral appearance.

According to the ESA, spiral galaxies are actually one of the most common galactic shapes in space. Most of them have bright centres surrounded by spiral arms filled with clouds of stars, gas and dust. In the case of Milky Way, its bright centre is occupied by a supermassive black hole.

"In the grand scheme of things, though, the galaxy is actually quite ordinary. Spiral galaxies like NGC 4380 are one of the most common types of galaxy in the universe," the ESA said in a statement. "These colossal collections of stars, often numbering in the hundreds of billions, are shaped like a flat disc, sometimes with a rounded bulge in the center."

"Graceful spiral arms outlined by dark lanes of dust wind around the bulging core, which glows brightly and has the highest concentration of stars in the galaxy," the agency added.

According to SciTech Daily, NGC 4380's photo was taken using Hubble's onboard Wide Field Camera 3, which served as the official replacement of the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on May 2009.

Its latest camera provides Hubble with a wide range of capabilities such as a wider field of view and broader wavelength coverage. These features allow the space telescope to capture high-quality photos of distant cosmic objects.

The stunning photo of NGC 4380 is the latest image taken by Hubble. Earlier this week, the space telescope captured an image of another spiral galaxy known as NGC 3717.

But instead of showcasing the galaxy's spiral shape, Hubble took a photo of NGC 3717 from its side. Due to the angle of the photo, the galaxy looks like a giant pancake in space.

Aside from NGC 3717, Hubble was also able to spot a pair of galaxies merging known as the Medusa Merger. According to the ESA, the merger occurred after a large galaxy started devouring a smaller one following a collision.