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Hubble Sees Galaxy in a Ghostly Haze

A galaxy, large and occupying most of the view from the center. The whole galaxy is made of smooth, diffuse light. The galaxy is surrounded by a smoky gray halo. Many stars shine around the galaxy, on a black background.
This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the lenticular galaxy NGC 6684, which is around 44 million light-years from Earth.
ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Tully

The lenticular galaxy NGC 6684 bathes this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in a pale light. Captured with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, this galaxy is around 44 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pavo. Pavo – the Latin name for peacock – is a constellation in the southern sky and one of four constellations collectively known as the Southern Birds.

Lenticular galaxies like NGC 6684 (lenticular means lens-shaped) possess a large disk but lack the prominent spiral arms of galaxies like the Andromeda Galaxy. This leaves them somewhere between elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies, and lends these galaxies a diffuse, ghostly look. NGC 6684 also lacks the dark dust lanes that thread through other galaxies, adding to its spectral appearance.

The data in this image was captured during a census of the nearby universe entitled Every Known Nearby Galaxy, which aims to observe all galaxies within 10 megaparsecs (32.6 million light-years) that the telescope has not already visited. Before this program began, Hubble had observed roughly 75% of these nearby galaxies. Completing this census will reveal insights into the stars making up a wide variety of galaxies, in a wide variety of environments.

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

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