Picture of the Day: An Extremely Thin Galaxy

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ngc4452_hst.jpg

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this picture of NGC 4452, an extremely thin galaxy that resides in the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. It serves as a powerful visual example of how thin disk galaxies, like our own Milky Way Galaxy, are. It "is so thin that it is actually difficult to determine what type of disk galaxy it is," the Astronomy Picture of the Day website explains. "Its lack of a visible dust lane indicates that it is a low-dust lenticular galaxy, although it is still possible that a view from on top would reveal spiral structure."

The bulge of stars in the middle is approximately 17,500 light years from either end of the line segment seen above. "Galaxies that appear this thin are rare mostly because our Earth must reside (nearly) in extrapolated planed of their thin galactic disks," the website notes. "Galaxies that actually are this thin are relatively common" though.

This image was posted yesterday as part of the Astronomy Picture of the Day project led by astrophysicists Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell with support from NASA's Astrophysics Science Division, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Michigan Technological University.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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