A Spiral in Profile

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)

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.

NGC 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). 

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario

About the Image

Id:potw1940a
Type:Observation
Release date:7 October 2019, 06:00
Size:4079 x 3789 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 3717
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Distance:60 million light years
Constellation:Hydra
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
4.3 MB
Screensize JPEG
169.1 KB

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1024x768
176.2 KB
1280x1024
281.7 KB
1600x1200
421.9 KB
1920x1200
527.3 KB
2048x1536
720.2 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):11 31 31.66
Position (Dec):-30° 18' 22.95"
Field of view:2.70 x 2.50 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 134.5° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
H
1.6 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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