'Fluffy' galaxy 67 million light years from Earth is no longer witnessing star birth at its center, says NASA

The galaxy NGC 2775 is classified as a flocculent galaxy, which is a type of spiral galaxy


                            'Fluffy' galaxy 67 million light years from Earth is no longer witnessing star birth at its center, says NASA
(ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team; Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

A galaxy, about 67 million light years away, is not buzzing with activity at its center anymore. The region has gone quiet as it is no longer witnessing star births, according to a photo released by NASA using the Hubble Telescope. The galaxy in question is NGC 2775. From its appearance, NASA says it has an empty galactic bulge -- the bright central part of star systems. Many years ago, the region seems to have used up its gas reserves to forge stars. These stellar bodies now have moved, occupying the outer stretch of the galaxy.

Commenting on its appearance, NASA said it appear fluffy. It is classified as a flocculent galaxy, a type of spiral galaxy. These flocculent spiral arms indicate that the recent history of star formation of the galaxy, known as NGC 2775, has been relatively quiet," the space agency says.

Milky Way is an example of spiral galaxies, which get their name from its shape. They have prominent and well defined spiral arms, where stars, gas, and dust gather and spread outwards. Flocculent galaxies like the NGC 2775, on the other hand, do not have distinguishable arms. Instead, they are uneven and discontinuous. Still, the outer stretch or the arms are home to millions of bright, young, blue stars, surrounded by dust. This population could, however, trigger star birth around.

It is not the first time NASA has snapped a fluffy-looking galaxy. In March 2020, NASA released an image of NGC 4237, about 60 million light-years from Earth. It is also home to an empty galactic bulge. Studying them can help astronomers understand how spiral galaxies change over time, and how the supermassive black holes -- that occupy the centers of most spirals --grow. Experts suspect that the mass of these monsters is linked to the galactic bulge.

Arms of the Milky Way. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul)

"However, this connection is still uncertain, and why these two components should be so strongly correlated is still a mystery — one that astronomers hope to solve by studying galaxies in the nearby universe, such as NGC 4237," NASA notes.

Astronomers have captured spectacular images in space, thanks to the Hubble telescope. It has offered an unhindered view of the universe, helping scientists get a glimpse of the most distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system. It has also informed scientists that the universe is expanding at rates faster than expected.

Hubble, which is as large as a school bus, was launched in April 1990. It circles the Earth and takes snaps of distant objects. In 2020, the telescope turned 30. As it continues to offer insights into the universe, NASA is working on launching its successor: James Webb Space Telescope, which will be a lot bigger than Hubble. "Webb will not orbit Earth as Hubble does. Webb will orbit the sun in a spot on the other side of the moon. The Webb telescope will be able to see a different kind of light than the light Hubble sees. Webb will help NASA see even more of the universe," the space agency says.

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