The Hubble Space Telescope observes NGC 3509

NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured a stunning new photo of the spiral galaxy NGC 3509.

This Hubble image shows NGC 3509, a spiral galaxy some 350 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. Image credit: NASA / ESA / R. van der Marel, STScI / G. Kober, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center / Catholic University of America.

NGC 3509 is located approximately 350 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.

This spiral galaxy was discovered on December 30, 1786 by the British astronomer of German origin William Herschel.

Also known as Arp 335, LEDA 33446, UGC 6134 and IRAS 11018+0505, it is about 215,000 light-years across.

“NGC 3509 is an interesting galaxy whose fast tidal tail – not visible in this image – offers clues to its evolution,” the Hubble astronomers said.

The new image of NGC 3509 includes observations from Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) instrument.

Several filters were used to sample different wavelengths. Color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter.

“Hubble observed NGC 3509 as part of a study that examined physical conditions in strongly interacting and merging galaxy nuclei,” the astronomers explained.

“But he found that NGC 3509 had a single, relatively intact core surrounded by a whirlwind of dust lanes.”

“This suggests that the galaxy did not undergo a major disk-to-disk merger.”

“Instead, NGC 3509 may have had a minor merger with a smaller galaxy, or it may be interacting with a smaller companion whose gravity creates the tidal tail.”

“Like most spiral galaxies, NGC 3509 is actively creating new stars,” they added.

“The red color in this image represents wavelengths of near-infrared light and highlights star forming regions along the galaxy’s spiral arms.”

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