Skip to main content

Woolly galaxy captured by Hubble has an enormous bulge in the middle

Hubble has captured another beautiful image of a distant galaxy. This time, the star of the image is the galaxy NGC 2775, which is extremely distant, located 67 million light-years away. It is part of the Antilia-Hydra Cloud of galaxies, located in the constellation of Cancer, and is part of the Virgo Supercluster.

This particular galaxy is notable for its delicate spiral arms, which are feather-like. In astronomical terms, these wavy arms are referred to as “flocculent,” meaning woolly or fluffy.

Related Videos
spiral pattern shown by the galaxy known as NGC 2775
The spiral pattern shown by the galaxy in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is striking because of its delicate, feathery nature. These “flocculent” spiral arms indicate that the recent history of star formation of the galaxy, known as NGC 2775, has been relatively quiet. There is virtually no star formation in the central part of the galaxy, which is dominated by an unusually large and relatively empty galactic bulge, where all the gas was converted into stars long ago. ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

“Millions of bright, young, blue stars shine in the complex, feather-like spiral arms, interlaced with dark lanes of dust,” the Hubble scientists wrote in the announcement sharing the new image. “Complexes of these hot, blue stars are thought to trigger star formation in nearby gas clouds. The overall feather-like spiral patterns of the arms are then formed by shearing of the gas clouds as the galaxy rotates. The spiral nature of flocculents stands in contrast to the grand design spirals, which have prominent, well defined-spiral arms.”

As well as its wavy arms, another unusual feature of this galaxy is its unexpectedly large bulge. Most spiral galaxies have a bulge in the center, where many stars are tightly packed together around the central area of the galaxy, compared to the more sparsely populated arms. And the arms tend to fall along a flat plane, while the bulge sticks out from the top and bottom of the galaxy.

In the case of NGC 2775, the bulge is not only larger than would be typical, but it is also relatively empty and hosts virtually no star formation. There is a relatively small amount of gas in the bulge, which scientists believe could be evidence that at one time in the galaxy’s history there was a large amount of supernovae activity in the area.

Editors' Recommendations

Hubble sees the dramatic collision of NASA’s DART spacecraft and an asteroid
These three panels capture the breakup of the asteroid Dimorphos when it was deliberately hit by NASA's 1,200-pound Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission spacecraft on September 26, 2022. Hubble Space Telescope had a ringside view of the space demolition derby.

Last year NASA tested out a new method for defending the planet from incoming objects by crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid. Recently, further analysis of data from the impact has shown more about what occurred during and after the impact, and how effective it was at changing the orbit of the asteroid.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured a series of images showing the aftermath of the impact, which have been put together into a video showing the bright flash of the impact and the emerging plume of material sent up from the asteroid:

Read more
Astronaut captures ‘unreal’ aurora image from space station
An aurora as viewed from the ISS.

A geomagnetic storm caused by a series of recent explosive events on the sun has brought spectacular auroras to parts of Earth in recent days.

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) 250 miles above our planet have also been enjoying the amazing light show, with ISS inhabitant Josh Cassada sharing a stunning image that he captured just recently.

Read more
An enormous galaxy cluster warps spacetime in this Hubble image
A massive galaxy cluster in the constellation Cetus dominates the centre of this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. This image is populated with a serene collection of elliptical and spiral galaxies, but galaxies surrounding the central cluster — which is named SPT-CL J0019-2026 — appear stretched into bright arcs, as if distorted by a gargantuan magnifying glass. This cosmic contortion is called gravitational lensing, and it occurs when a massive object like a galaxy cluster has a sufficiently powerful gravitational field to distort and magnify the light from background objects.

Every week, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope share an image from this beloved piece of space technology, and this week's image shows a vital astronomical phenomenon in action. While space telescopes can observe very far-off objects if they are bright enough, there is still a lot of the universe that is too far away to observe -- which is why researchers make use of a natural occurrence called gravitational lensing.

Gravitational lensing happens when an object like a galaxy or galaxy cluster has so much mass that it noticeably warps spacetime. Everything with mass bends spacetime somewhat, but usually this effect is so small as to be effectively invisible. But when the object is something with as much mass as a large galaxy or even a collection of galaxies, then this warping can be significant enough for us to observe it.

Read more