Hubble spots a barred lynx spiral

Hubble spots a barred lynx spiral

Credit: ESA/Hubble/NASA

Discovered by British astronomer William Herschel over 200
years ago, NGC 2500 lies about 30 million light-years away in
the northern constellation of Lynx. As this NASA/ESA Hubble
Space Telescope image shows, NGC 2500 is a particular kind of
spiral galaxy known as a barred spiral, its wispy arms
swirling out from a bright, elongated core.

Barred spirals are actually more common than was once thought.
Around two-thirds of all spiral —including the Milky Way—exhibit these
straight bars cutting through their centers. These cosmic
structures act as glowing nurseries for newborn stars, and
funnel material towards the active core of a galaxy. NGC 2500
is still actively forming new stars, although this process
appears to be occurring very unevenly. The upper half of the
galaxy—where the are slightly better
defined—hosts many more star-forming regions than the lower
half, as indicated by the bright, dotted islands of light.

There is another similarity between NGC 2500 and our home
galaxy. Together with Andromeda, Triangulum, and many smaller
natural satellites, the Milky Way is part of the Local Group of
galaxies, a gathering of over 50 galaxies all loosely held
together by gravity. NGC 2500 forms a similar group with some
of its nearby neighbors, including NGC 2541, NGC 2552, NGC
2537, and the bright, Andromeda-like spiral NGC 2481 (known
collectively as the NGC 2841 group).

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