A bizarre cosmic rarity: NGC 660
This new Hubble image shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 660, located around 45 million light-years away from us.
NGC 660 is classified as a "polar ring galaxy", meaning that it has a belt of gas and stars around its centre that it ripped from a near neighbour during a clash about one billion years ago. The first polar ring galaxy was observed in 1978 and only around a dozen more have been discovered since then, making them something of a cosmic rarity.
Unfortunately, NGC 660’s polar ring cannot be seen in this image, but has plenty of other features that make it of interest to astronomers – its central bulge is strangely off-kilter and, perhaps more intriguingly, it is thought to harbour exceptionally large amounts of dark matter. In addition, in late 2012 astronomers observed a massive outburst emanating from NGC 660 that was around ten times as bright as a supernova explosion. This burst was thought to be caused by a massive jet shooting out of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy.
A version of this image was entered into the Hubble's Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Brian Campbell.
ESA/Hubble & NASA
About the Image
|Release date:||2 December 2013, 10:00|
|Size:||1971 x 1640 px|
About the Object
|Type:||• Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Ring|
• X - Galaxies Images/Videos
|Distance:||45 million light years|
|Position (RA):||1 43 2.19|
|Position (Dec):||13° 38' 45.57"|
|Field of view:||1.63 x 1.36 arcminutes|
|Orientation:||North is 17.5° left of vertical|
Colours & filters
|658 nm||Hubble Space Telescope|
|814 nm||Hubble Space Telescope|
|450 nm||Hubble Space Telescope|