NASA's Hubble Telescope Spots A Galaxy 60 Million Light Years Away Giving Us The Side-Eye — PHOTO
It's kind of like the galaxy is giving us the side-eye, isn't it? Meet IC 335, the catchily-named galaxy NASA's Hubble Space Telescope just caught on camera 60 million light years away from where you're sitting right now. IC 335 (what was wrong with, say, Larry?) is one of four galaxies in its galaxy group, which you can find in the Fornax Galaxy Cluster (that's more like it).
One small problem: We can't see the galaxy anything other than side-on, thanks to our somewhat inconvenient vantage point. (Get your act together, Earth.) But what we do know about IC 335 is that it's 45 000 light years long, and is part of an aging troupe of galaxies in the Fornax cluster. In NASA's own words:
These lenticular galaxies are an intermediate state in galaxy morphological classification schemes between true spiral and elliptical galaxies. They have a thin stellar disk and a bulge, like spiral galaxies, but in contrast to typical spiral galaxies they have used up most of the interstellar medium. Only a few new stars can be created out of the material that is left and the star formation rate is very low. Hence, the population of stars in S0 galaxies consists mainly of aging stars, very similar to the star population in elliptical galaxies.
As S0 galaxies have only ill-defined spiral arms they are easily mistaken for elliptical galaxies if they are seen inclined face-on or edge-on as IC 335 here. And indeed, despite the morphological differences between S0 and elliptical class galaxies, they share some common characteristics, like typical sizes and spectral features.
Yeah, it's a mouthful, but don't let NASA fool you into thinking the space agency isn't fun. IC 335 may not be a barrel of laughs — if very pretty from our side-on view — but a month ago NASA posted the following under the unforgettable headline "The Party’s Over for These Youthful Compact Galaxies."
Researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have uncovered young, massive, compact galaxies whose raucous star-making parties are ending early.
Which look like this, if you wondered.
We knew you had it in you, NASA.
Images: ESA/Hubble and NASA, NASA, ESA, A. Field, STScI