Wednesday, June 2, 2021

NGC 2276

The Hubble Telescope recently took this stunning image of NGC 2276, a spiral galaxy 120 million light-years away from Earth.

NGC 2276 at first glance may recall a normal spiral galaxy, but observing it carefully, one realizes that its shape has been slightly distorted. In fact, the core (the yellow region) is usually found in the exact center of galaxies; in the case of NGC 2276 instead this is off-center and is located in the upper left corner. Furthermore, the spiral arms in the outermost regions also appear slightly deformed. These two characteristics can be explained by assuming that NGC 2276 recently gravitationally interacted with a smaller galaxy, not visible in this image.

Continuing to observe the galaxy, however, we can notice a further peculiarity: the regions on the left appear much more blue and bright than those on the right.

The interaction between NGC 2276 and the intergalactic hot gas has in fact triggered several star formation phenomena in the outer arms on the left, which have led to the birth of several very bright massive stars.

Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, Paul Sell.

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