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A Spiral in Profile
RA 11h 31m 31.66s Dec -30° 18' 22.95"
60 million light years
6.2 x 1.0 arcmin
2.70 x 2.50 arcminutes
North is 134.5° right of vertical
ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario
October 7, 2019
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The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope sees galaxies of all shapes, sizes, brightnesses, and orientations in the cosmos. Sometimes, the telescope gazes at a galaxy oriented sideways - as shown here. The spiral galaxy featured in this Picture of the Week is called NGC 3717, and it is located about 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent). It was discovered on April 29, 1834 by John Herschel.
Seeing a spiral almost in profile, as Hubble has here, can provide a vivid sense of its three-dimensional shape. Through most of their expanse, spiral galaxies are shaped like a thin pancake. At their cores, though, they have bright, spherical, star-filled bulges that extend above and below this disc, giving these galaxies a shape somewhat like that of a flying saucer when they are seen edgeon.
3717 is not captured perfectly edge-on in this image; the nearer part
of the galaxy is tilted ever so slightly down, and the far side tilted
up. This angle affords a view across the disc and the central bulge (of
which only one side is visible).