A sleepy galaxy with an empty heart

Blue stars glitter on the feathery arms of flocculent galaxy NGC 2775.

Galaxy NGC 2775, by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA/J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

The fluffy spiral arms and the curiously large empty region at its heart are the signs of a sleepy galaxy in repose.

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Flocculent galaxy NGC 2775, located 67 million lightyears away in the constellation of Cancer, has its furious period of star production long behind it, leaving a vacant centre where its concentrated reserves of gas were converted to stars long ago.

The woolly, ill-defined spiral arms, across which are scattered millions of blue stars, are what give ‘flocculent’ type galaxies their name; in contrast to the distinct, continuous arms of grand design spirals.

For more on galactic astronomy, read our guide to galaxies.

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Observatory Hubble Space Telescope

Image release date 2 July 2020

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Image credit ESA/Hubble & NASA/J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)