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Hubble spots luminous lenticular galaxy

Some astronomers have hypothesized that lenticular galaxies are an evolved form of elliptical galaxies.

By Brooks Hays
Hubble spots luminous lenticular galaxy
Most lenticular galaxies appear as a soft white disk surrounding a luminous central bulge. Photo by NASA/ESA/Hubble

GREENBELT, Md., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The galaxy PGC 83677 appears as a lone bright orb in an otherwise dark and lonely corner of the universe. Recently, Hubble spotted the soft, white glow of the galaxy set against a background of faraway stars and galaxies.

PGC 83677 is a lenticular, or lens-shaped, galaxy -- a shape bridging the gap between elliptical and spiral galaxy structures. The galaxy is located 300 light-years from Earth, and appears within the constellation Coma Berenices.

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In the newly released Hubble image, the galaxy appears as a halo of soft white surrounding a bright center. Previous analysis of the unique galaxy suggests its outskirts are relatively calm, while a supermassive black hole churns out intense X-ray emissions at its center.

All lenticular galaxies feature the same basic bulge and surrounding disk structure.

Because lenticular and elliptical galaxies feature so many structural similarities, some astronomers have hypothesized that lenticular galaxies are an evolved form of elliptical galaxies -- an elliptical galaxy in transformation. But astronomers have yet to develop a model that successfully explains such a transition.

The image of PGC 83677 was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys, a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency.

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