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Spiral galaxy peeks through dwarf galaxy

May 11, 2012|By Thomas H. Maugh II
  • The dwarf galaxy NGC 2366 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. The yellowish blur near the middle is a spiral galaxy behind it.
The dwarf galaxy NGC 2366 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. The yellowish… (NASA / ESA )

Individual stars can be seen in this image of the dwarf galaxy NGC 2366 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope operated by NASA and the European Space Agency. The galaxy is about 10 million light-years away in the constellation Camelopardalis (the Giraffe) but is too dim to be seen with the naked eye.

The bright blue object in the upper right corner is a nebula, a cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases that has its own ID number, NGC 2363, but that is part of the dwarf galaxy. Nebulae are regions where gas and dust condense to form stars, planets and other objects. It is lit up by newly formed stars inside it. Although green and infrared filters on the space telescope make the nebula appear blue, it is actually a shade of red.

The yellowish spiral object to its left is not part of the dwarf galaxy but is itself a spiral galaxy much farther off in the distance. It can be seen because galaxies are made up primarily of empty space, which allows light from distant objects to shine through.

As a dwarf galaxy, NGC 2366 is much smaller than our own Milky Way galaxy. In fact, it is about the same size as our two satellite galaxies, known as the Large and Small Magellenic clouds. Because NGC does not have a well-defined structure, it is classified as an irregular galaxy.

Other Hubble images can be seen here.

Twitter: @LATMaugh

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