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