This new image of the spiral galaxy NGC 3521 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is not out of focus. Instead, the galaxy itself has a soft, woolly appearance as it a member of a class of galaxies known as flocculent spirals.
Like other flocculent galaxies, NGC 3521 lacks the clearly defined, arcing structure to its spiral arms. In flocculent spirals, fluffy patches of stars and dust show up here and there throughout their disks. Sometimes the tufts of stars are arranged in a generally spiraling form, as with NGC 3521, but illuminated star-filled regions can also appear as short or discontinuous spiral arms.
NGC 3521 is located almost 40 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA and S. Smartt (Queen’s University Belfast); Acknowledgement: Robert Gendler
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