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GALAXY NGC 2787

Tightly wound, almost concentric, arms of dark dust encircle the bright nucleus of the otherwise nondescript galaxy, NGC 2787, in this image created by the Hubble Heritage team. Astronomer Marcella Carollo (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich) and collaborators used Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 to collect the data in January 1999.

In Edwin Hubble's galaxy classification scheme, NGC 2787 is classified as an SB0, a barred lenticular galaxy. These lens-shaped galaxies show little or no evidence of the grand spiral arms that occur in their more photogenic cousins, though NGC 2787 does sport a faint bar, not apparent in this image.

NGC 2787's seemingly bland qualities are, however, just what the doctor ordered for Carollo's investigation. Dr. Carollo and team are looking at the center of these galaxies for clues about the process of galaxy formation including the role of galaxy collisions and central black holes.

Also visible in the Heritage image are about a dozen globular clusters hovering around NGC 2787. What appear to be stars are, in fact, gravitationally bound families of 100,000's of ancient stars orbiting the center of NGC 2787.

NGC 2787 lies roughly 24 million light-years (7.4 megaparsecs) from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major. This Heritage image was made by combining light from blue, green and infrared filters from the 1999 dataset.

Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: M. Carollo (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich)