On Christmas Eve, NASA released a photo taken by the Hubble Telescope of a galaxy 60 million light-years from Earth. Numbered galaxy IC 335, the galaxy is one in a group with three others located in what is called the Fornax Galaxy Cluster.
From Earth, galaxy IC 335 can only be seen on its edge, according to NASA. This view makes astronomers’ job of classifying the galaxy difficult. Astronomers cannot identify any spiral arms or bars across its center. They do know that IC 335 is 45,000 light-years across. IC 335 is somewhere between a spiral and an elliptical galaxy.
“[Lenticular galaxies] 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.”
This type of galaxy is considered an aging or fading galaxy. IC 335 either never had an interaction with another galaxy or only experienced a single merger between two spiral galaxies. This is opposed to spiral and elliptical types, which usually do interact violently with their cosmic neighbors.
However, even NASA admits that not everything is known about the stars and the universe outside of our planet.
“The exact nature of these galaxies is still a matter of debate.”
— NASA (@NASA) December 24, 2014
Galaxies can be elliptical, spiral, or irregular, or they can be a combination of those categories. The Huffington Post spoke to an astronomy professor at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts to break down NASA’s post. Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff explained by email the classification process of galaxy IC 335.
“It clearly isn’t an elliptical galaxy since it looks flat, but it doesn’t seem to have matter between the stars…so the scientists involved classify it as an intermediate type between spirals and ellipticals.”
The Hubble Telescope is always a source of spectacular images from around the universe. The Inquisitr recently covered some breathtaking images taken by the Hubble Telescope. The telescope is nearing the 25th anniversary of its launch. It is expected to remain in operation through 2020.
The Hubble Space Telescope in one word, WOW. pic.twitter.com/QGk1ma6B9F
— StarChild (@StarChild_100) December 30, 2014
— Daniel Gennaoui (@DanielGennaoui) December 26, 2014
Grand star-forming region R136 in NGC 2070 (captured by the Hubble Space Telescope) #Hubble_Space_Telescope pic.twitter.com/DMrqDmlkTz
— Sunny Kumar Labh (@science_sunny) December 26, 2014
[Photo Source: NASA]