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Image of the Week – The Perfect Disk – 04/02/11

4 Feb 2011, 01:00 UTC
Image of the Week – The Perfect Disk – 04/02/11
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The ESO has released this stunning image of the galaxy NGC 3621, a galaxy located 22 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Hydra.
NGC 3621 Credit: ESO and Joe DePasquale
This galaxy is shining example of a pure disk galaxy. These show prominent spiral arms but are flat and lack the central bulges found in normal spiral galaxies, this indicates they have a quiet live avoiding any galactic collisions that are thought to form these bulges.
Indeed NGC 3621 is thought to be comparable to a galactic pancake – being both thin and flat. Its relative proximity and luminosity make the galaxy an appealing target for astronomers. A group using the Hubble Space Telescope used NGC 3621 in their study of 18 galaxies to locate and measure the properties of Cepheid variable stars to determine the exact rate of expansion of the universe to a greater deal of accuracy, with 69 such stars were identified in this galaxy alone.
The ESO image was captured using various filters and the Wide Field Imager on the 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
Amateur astronomers can view NGC 3621 themselves with a medium powered telescope.
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