A Barred Spiral Galaxy in a Sea of Galaxies!

Barred Spiral Galaxy - NGC 3259

Barred Spiral Galaxy - NGC 3259

How many galaxies can you count in this picture?  This image of a barred spiral galaxy (NGC 3259) was released this week by the ESA/Hubble Team. What strikes me about this image is the sheer number of galaxies that appear to be surrounding this beautiful barred spiral galaxy.  It’s almost as if the barred spiral galaxy is adrift in a sea of galaxies.

The main character in this image is of course, NGC 3259.  It lies about 110 million light years away from the Earth and located in the constellation Ursa Major – the Great Bear.   There are a couple of interesting things going on in this galaxy.  Notice the brightness of the central bulge.  It is believed that the core of this galaxy is inhabited by a super massive black hole that is consuming anything around it.  This galactic feast is spewing enormous amounts of energy across the spectrum causing the bright spot in the center.

Take a look at the numerous blue spots in the well formed spiral arms. These bright blue spots are located within the abundant dust lanes and are newly formed stars.  These bright, hot new stars are blue – which gives the entire galaxy a blue complexion.

Look to the left of the central galaxy.  Can you spot the small patch of light?  This isn’t a smudge on Hubble’s camera lens, it is a small companion galaxy of NCG 3259.  It is most likely orbiting around the galaxy like the Large and Small Magellanic Galaxies are orbiting around our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Finally look closely at the background.  Can you see the distant galaxies of all shapes and sizes that are behind NGC 3259?  How many can you count? Let us know.


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