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A Spiral Snowflake
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Name: NGC 6814
Description: Spiral Galaxy
Position (J2000): RA 19h 42m 40.96s Dec -10° 19' 30.75"
Constellation: Aquila
Distance: 75 million light years
Visual magnitude: 11.2
Angular dimensions: 3.2 arcmin
Field of view: 2.62 x 2.62 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 50.8° left of vertical
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Release date: May 9, 2016
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Spiral galaxies together with irregular galaxies make up approximately 60% of the galaxies in the local Universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique — like snowflakes, no two are alike. This is demonstrated by the striking face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6814, whose luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms, rippled with an intricate pattern of dark dust, are captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image. It was first discovered by William Herschel on August 2, 1788

NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centers that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the Sun.

As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionized gas are studded along its spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy.