Hubble spies a spiral within a spiral

This galaxy might seem like your average spiral, but take a closer look...

Published: April 10, 2020 at 8:00 am
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Spiral galaxy NGC 2273. Credit: Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Greene

This spiral galaxy, named NGC 2273, is something of a cosmic anomaly. It may look like a normal spiral with distinctive arms coiling away from the galactic centre, but there are actually rings within these spiral arms.


This is known as a ‘multi-ring’ structure, as NGC 2273 contains an inner ring and two outer rings, known to astronomers as ‘pseudorings’.

Rings are formed when a galaxy’s arms seem to loop round so much that they touch one another.

The rings in this galaxy are formed by two sets of spiral arms merging, and similarly, there are two more arcing structures closer to the centre.

NGC 2273 is also an example of a Seyfert galaxy: colossal cosmic structures with a luminous core powered by a supermassive black hole consuming infalling matter at the centre.

The core shines so brightly it would completely outshine our own Milky Way galaxy.

Image stats

Observatory Hubble Space Telescope

Image release date 6 April 2020


Image credit ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Greene


Iain Todd, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.


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