This spectacular image was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The bright streak slicing across the frame is an edge-on view of galaxy NGC 4762, and a number of other distant galaxies can be seen scattered in the background.
NGC 4762 lies about 58 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). It is part of the Virgo Cluster, hence its alternative designation of VCC 2095 for Virgo Cluster Catalog entry. This catalog is a listing of just over 2000 galaxies in the area of the Virgo Cluster. The Virgo Cluster is actually prominently situated, and lies at the center of the larger Virgo supercluster, of which our galaxy group, the Local Group, is a member.
Previously thought to be a barred spiral galaxy, NGC 4762 has since been found to be a lenticular galaxy, a kind of intermediate step between an elliptical and a spiral. The edge-on view that we have of this particular galaxy makes it difficult to determine its true shape, but astronomers have found the galaxy to consist of four main components — a central bulge, a bar, a thick disk and an outer ring.
The galaxy's disk is asymmetric and warped, which could potentially be explained by NGC 4762 violently cannibalizing a smaller galaxy in the past. The remains of this former companion may then have settled within NGC 4762's disk, redistributing the gas and stars and so changing the disk's morphology.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Arp 147 (also known as IC 298) is an interacting pair of ring galaxies. It lies 430 million to 440 million light years away in the constellation Cetus and does not appear to be part of any significant galaxy group. The system was originally discovered in 1893 by Stephane Javelle and is listed in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies
The two galaxies happen to be oriented so that they appear to mark the number 10. The left-most galaxy, or the "one" in this image, is relatively undisturbed apart from a smooth ring of starlight. It appears nearly on edge to our line of sight. The right-most galaxy, resembling a zero, exhibits a clumpy, blue ring of intense star formation.
The blue ring was most probably formed after the galaxy on the left passed through the galaxy on the right. Just as a pebble thrown into a pond creates an outwardly moving circular wave, a propagating density wave was generated at the point of impact and spread outward. As this density wave collided with material in the target galaxy that was moving inward due to the gravitational pull of the two galaxies, shocks and dense gas were produced, stimulating star formation.
The dusty reddish knot at the lower left of the blue ring probably marks the location of the original nucleus of the galaxy that was hit.
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