Skip to main content

Hubble images our ghostly neighborhood galaxy NGC 6684

Scientists working with the Hubble Space Telescope release an image each week that the telescope has taken recently, and this week’s image shows a lenticular galaxy located 44 million light-years away. Known as NGC 6684, this galaxy in the constellation of Pavo, which can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

Lenticular galaxies are different from spiral galaxies such as our Milky Way. Instead of distinct spiral arms reaching out from a center, lenticular galaxies are more amorphous and diffuse, but with a central disk. This type of galaxy is halfway between a spiral galaxy and an elliptical galaxy, which is smooth and almost featureless. Lenticular galaxies don’t have much interstellar matter, or dust and gas floating between stars, so there isn’t much material for the creation of new stars and the rate of star formation within these galaxies is low. The lack of structure in this type of galaxy is emphasized by its absence of dust lanes, making it look even more “ghostly,” as Hubble scientists dub it.

The lenticular galaxy NGC 6684 bathes this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in a pale light. Captured with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, this galaxy is around 44 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pavo. Pavo – the Latin name for peacock – is a constellation in the southern sky and one of four constellations collectively known as the Southern Birds.
The lenticular galaxy NGC 6684 bathes this image from the NASA/European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope in a pale light. Captured with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, this galaxy is around 44 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pavo. Pavo – the Latin name for peacock – is a constellation in the southern sky and one of four constellations collectively known as the Southern Birds. ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Tully

This image was taken as part of a Hubble program called Every Known Nearby Galaxy, which aims to use Hubble to observe every galaxy we know about located within 10 megaparsecs (32.6 million light-years) of Earth that has not yet been imaged. “Before this program began, Hubble had observed roughly 75% of these nearby galaxies,” Hubble scientists write. “Completing this census will reveal insights into the stars making up a wide variety of galaxies, in a wide variety of environments.”

Other galaxies observed as part of this program include LEDA 48062, a faint and sparse galaxy that was imaged in a striking setting among a variety of other galaxy types and the small and fuzzy dwarf galaxy UGCA 307. And Hubble has imaged other close-by galaxies for different programs of research as well, such as a stunningly detailed image of our neighbor, the Triangulum galaxy, that shows the full spiral face of the galaxy as it stretches across nearly 20,000 light-years.

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
Hubble discovers over 1,000 new asteroids thanks to photobombing
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the barred spiral galaxy UGC 12158 looks like someone took a white marking pen to it. In reality it is a combination of time exposures of a foreground asteroid moving through Hubble’s field of view, photobombing the observation of the galaxy. Several exposures of the galaxy were taken, which is evidenced by the dashed pattern.

The Hubble Space Telescope is most famous for taking images of far-off galaxies, but it is also useful for studying objects right here in our own solar system. Recently, researchers have gotten creative and found a way to use Hubble data to detect previously unknown asteroids that are mostly located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The researchers discovered an incredible 1,031 new asteroids, many of them small and difficult to detect with several hundred of them less than a kilometer in size. To identify the asteroids, the researchers combed through a total of 37,000 Hubble images taken over a 19-year time period, identifying the tell-tale trail of asteroids zipping past Hubble's camera.

Read more
Hubble spots a bright galaxy peering out from behind a dark nebula
The subject of this image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the spiral galaxy IC 4633, located 100 million light-years away from us in the constellation Apus. IC 4633 is a galaxy rich in star-forming activity and also hosts an active galactic nucleus at its core. From our point of view, the galaxy is tilted mostly towards us, giving astronomers a fairly good view of its billions of stars.

A new image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a galaxy partly hidden by a huge cloud of dust known as a dark nebula. The galaxy IC 4633 still shines brightly and beautifully in the main part of the image, but to the bottom right, you can see dark smudges of dust that are blocking the light from this part of the galaxy.

Taken using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instrument, the image also incorporates data from the DECam instrument on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope, which is located in Chile. By bringing together data from the space-based Hubble and the ground-based DECam, astronomers can get a better look at this galaxy, located 100 million light-years away, and the dark dust partially obscuring it.

Read more
James Webb images capture the galactic winds of newborn stars
A team of astronomers used the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope to survey the starburst galaxy Messier 82 (M82), which is located 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. M82 hosts a frenzy of star formation, sprouting new stars 10 times faster than the Milky Way galaxy. Webb’s infrared capabilities enabled scientists to peer through curtains of dust and gas that have historically obscured the star formation process. This image from Webb’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) instrument shows the centre of M82 with an unprecedented level of detail. With Webb’s resolution, astronomers can distinguish small, bright compact sources that are either individual stars or star clusters. Obtaining an accurate count of the stars and clusters that compose M82’s centre can help astronomers understand the different phases of star formation and the timelines for each stage.

A stunning new pair of images from the James Webb Space Telescope show a new view of a familiar galaxy. Messier 82 is a famous starburst galaxy, full of bright and active star formation, and scientists are using Webb to study how stars are being born in the busy conditions at the center of the galaxy.

Astronomers used Webb's NIRCam instrument to observe the galaxy, and by splitting the resulting data into shorter and longer wavelengths, you can see different features which are picked out in the bustling, active region where stars are forming.

Read more