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Business News/ Science / News/  Nasa’s Hubble reveals captivating image of irregular galaxy NGC 2814
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Nasa’s Hubble reveals captivating image of irregular galaxy NGC 2814

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently shared a captivating image of an irregular galaxy NGC 2814 located approximately 85 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ursa Major.

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image features the irregular galaxy, NGC 2814. (Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)Premium
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image features the irregular galaxy, NGC 2814. (Photo: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently shared a captivating image of an irregular galaxy NGC 2814 located approximately 85 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ursa Major.

In this stunning image, which was captured by using the Hubble Space Telescope, the irregular galaxy NGC 2814, looks like a loose stroke of bright paint across a dark background. 

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Contrary to its seemingly isolated appearance, NGC 2814 actually has three close galactic neighbours: a side-on spiral galaxy known as NGC 2820; an irregular galaxy named IC 2458; and a face-on non-barred spiral galaxy called NGC 2805. Collectively, the four galaxies make up a galaxy group known as Holmberg 124. These galaxies are sometimes referred to as a group of ‘late-type galaxies’.

These neighbouring spiral and irregular galaxies, classified as “late-type," stand in contrast to elliptical galaxies, which are commonly referred to as “early-type."

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It is widely believed that Edwin Hubble inaccurately thought that elliptical galaxies were the evolutionary precursors to spiral and irregular galaxies, and that is the reason why ellipticals are classed as early-type and spirals and irregulars are classed as late-type. 

But it is interesting to note that the misconceptions persist despite Hubble’s original intention. He explicitly said in a 1927 paper that “the nomenclature … [early and late] … refers to the position in the sequence, and temporal connotations are made at one’s peril."

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The misconception is due to the Hubble tuning fork of galactic classification, which visually shows galaxy types proceeding from elliptical to spiral, in a sequence that could easily be interpreted as a temporal evolution. 

However, Hubble actually adopted the terms early-type and late-type from much older astronomical terminology for stellar classifications, and did not mean to state that ellipticals were literally evolutionary precursors to spiral and irregular galaxies. 

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Published: 19 Dec 2023, 09:17 PM IST
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