Although beautiful, this image from the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble) does not do justice to this galaxy’s true appeal: it is actually a spectacular spiral galaxy! From Earth, the galaxy’s vast disk of gas, dust and stars is seen nearly edge-on, flat like a pancake.
Located about a hundred million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster), this spiral galaxy is not the only one seen here. A handful of other galaxies can be seen lurking in the background, scattered around the narrow strip the main galaxy. Many are oriented face-on or at tilted angles, showing off their glamorous spiral arms and bright cores. Such orientations provide a wealth of detail about the arms and their nuclei, but fully understanding a galaxy’s three-dimensional structure also requires an edge-on view. This gives astronomers an overall idea of how stars are distributed throughout the galaxy and allows them to measure the “height” of the disk and the bright star-studded core.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
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