NGC 685: a galaxy home to millions of stars surprised Hubble

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The Hubble telescope captured the galaxy NGC 685, made up of more than 100 million stars, appearing to orbit in the depths of space

The average galaxy NGC 685 contains at least 100 million stars. About 58 million light-years from Earth, galaxy NGC 685 appears to be orbiting in the depths of space.

The Hubble Space Telescope image, the last of six released as part of Hubble’s Galaxy Week, shows the galaxy with its spiral arms dotted with countless pockets of bright blue regions called star clusters. Closer to the center of the galaxy, there are also many twisted red wisps, representing bands of gas and dust where new generations of stars form over eons.

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NGC 685: a galaxy home to millions of stars surprised Hubble

NASA’s accompanying description of the photo of the galaxy NGC 685 says it is located in the constellation Eridanus, measures about 60,000 light-years, and may contain at least 100 million stars. In comparison, the Milky Way is estimated to consist of approximately 100 billion stars.

Despite the difference in size and number of stars, both galaxies have an interesting feature: they have a central bar that crosses the cores of the galaxies. In this image of the galaxy NGC 685, this red-flecked bar can be seen stretching horizontally within a small circle of gas and dust. Its intense brilliance is due to the many stars concentrated in a relatively small area.

Previous studies have shown that such bars are observed in about two-thirds of spiral galaxies. Gas and other material flows into the galactic cores through these bridges, indicating that the galaxy’s “formative period” is over, astronomers say.

Although little time has been devoted to studying NGC 685, studying bar galaxies like this one helps astronomers understand how galaxies evolve and whether the process is different for our galaxy.

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