Hubble Snaps A Gorgeous Pic Of The Universe’s Loneliest Galaxy

Illustration for article titled Hubble Snaps A Gorgeous Pic Of The Universe’s Loneliest Galaxy

This is NGC 6503, a spiral dwarf galaxy located about 18 million light-years away. Dubbed the “Lost-In-Space” galaxy, it resides within the Local Void — a vast region of space that’s completely devoid of other galaxies.

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Virtually all galaxies are clumped into groups. The Milky Way, for example, is situated within the Local Group, an assortment of about 54 galaxies. But NGC 6503 is a loner, a 30,000 light-year-wide galaxy that’s strangely adrift in an eerily empty region of the cosmos — one that stretches across 150 million light-years. Fascinatingly, our galaxy is being influenced by this featureless region; we’re being pulled away from it by the gentle tug of other nearby galaxies.

The new image, shown above, is a vast improvement over the one taken of NGC 6503 back in 2007 (shown below). Hubble captured the image over the course of 154 Earth orbits, which is not typical; the space telescope usually observers objects over several to dozens of orbits.

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Illustration for article titled Hubble Snaps A Gorgeous Pic Of The Universe’s Loneliest Galaxy

As noted at the Hubble website: “Bright red patches of gas can be seen scattered through its swirling spiral arms, mixed with bright blue regions that contain newly-forming stars. Dark brown dust lanes snake across the galaxy’s bright arms and centre, giving it a mottled appearance.”

[Via Hubble]


Contact the author at george@io9.com and @dvorsky. Top image by NASA/Hubble/ESA. Bottom image: NASA, ESA, Digitized Sky Survey 2 (Acknowledgement: Davide De Martin).

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DISCUSSION

“...it resides within the Local Void — a vast region of space that’s completely devoid of other galaxies.”

...except for all the red dwarf galaxies which are too small and dim to detect with current telescopes and when they find them it will transform the cosmological models and explain a bunch of other stuff. I invented the term and predicted their existence and you can all thank me later (no doubt after a period of derision and outright ignoring my claim.)