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Hubble eyes a mysterious old spiral

Date:
July 26, 2013
Source:
NASA
Summary:
A striking cosmic whirl is the center of galaxy NGC 524, as seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy is located in the constellation of Pisces, some 90 million light-years from Earth.

Galaxy NGC 524.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

A striking cosmic whirl is the center of galaxy NGC 524, as seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy is located in the constellation of Pisces, some 90 million light-years from Earth.

NGC 524 is a lenticular galaxy. Lenticular galaxies are believed to be an intermediate state in galactic evolution -- they are neither elliptical nor spiral. Spirals are middle-aged galaxies with vast, pin wheeling arms that contain millions of stars. Along with these stars are large clouds of gas and dust that, when dense enough, are the nurseries where new stars are born. When all the gas is either depleted or lost into space, the arms gradually fade away and the spiral shape begins to weaken. At the end of this process, what remains is a lenticular galaxy -- a bright disc full of old, red stars surrounded by what little gas and dust the galaxy has managed to cling on to.

This image shows the shape of NGC 524 in detail, formed by the remaining gas surrounding the galaxy's central bulge. Observations of this galaxy have revealed that it maintains some spiral-like motion, explaining its intricate structure.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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NASA. "Hubble eyes a mysterious old spiral." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726135822.htm>.
NASA. (2013, July 26). Hubble eyes a mysterious old spiral. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726135822.htm
NASA. "Hubble eyes a mysterious old spiral." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726135822.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

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