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Stunning Image of Lopsided Galaxy Captured By Hubble Telescope

Aug 18, 2016 05:25 AM EDT
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NASA's Hubble Telescope captured an image of a lopsided galaxy.

The galaxy is known as NGC 2337, and it is considered an irregular galaxy as it lacks a distinct and regular appearance. The galaxy NGC 2337 is located 25 million light-years away in the constellation of Lynx, NASA said in a news release.

The image captured by Hubble showed the stars of the lopsided galaxy, with blue patches and knots of light scattered around, indicating the presence of young, newly formed, hot stars, NASA officials said.

According to NASA scientists, the shape of irregular galaxies like the lopsided NGC 2337 is caused by collision with other galaxies. The interaction of gravitational forces during a collision could deform and warp the galaxies.

"Despite the disruption, gravitational interactions between galaxies can kick-start star formation activity within the affected galaxies, which may explain the pockets of blue light scattered throughout NGC 2337," NASA officials said in a statement.

About a quarter of all known galaxies in the universe have an irregular shape. While irregular galaxies are not as visually stunning as the symmetrical and elliptical galaxies like our very own Milky Way, scientists consider them important when studying about a galaxy's evolution. Irregular galaxies could provide astronomers valuable information about how galaxies interact, evolve and how they give birth to new stars.

The galaxy NGC 2337, also known as LEDA 20298 and UGC 3711, was discovered in 1877 by French astronomer Édouard Stephan, who also discovered the Stephan's Quintet group of galaxies. According to NASA officials, the image was composed of infrared and optical observations from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

The Lynx is a faint constellation in the northern hemisphere. It was charted by Polish astronomer Johannes Havelius in the 17th century, creating a constellation out of the stars lying in the gap between Ursa Major and Auriga. It was named after the lynx because the constellation was too faint that it will take someone with the eyesight of a lynx to spot it from the sky.

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