There are a lot of gorgeous galaxies out there in the universe, but it’s hard to top a truly sublime spiral, the kind of galaxy that swirls sparkling curved arms across the dark of space. That’s what’s on show in a new Hubble Space Telescope portrait of galaxy NGC 4535.
NGC 4535 has an engaging nickname: the Lost Galaxy. It’s not actually lost in space, but the moniker comes from how it looks with gear that’s not as fancy as Hubble.
“Despite the incredible quality of this image, taken from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NGC 4535 has a hazy, somewhat ghostly, appearance when viewed from a smaller telescope,” the European Space Agency said in a statement Friday.
According to ESA, amateur astronomer Leland S. Copeland viewed the galaxy in the 1950s and gave it the whimsical Lost Galaxy nickname in honor of its ethereal appearance.
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NASA also shared the image this week. NASA and ESA jointly operate Hubble. The space telescope’s image shows a stunning amount of detail. The bright blue spots are where young, hot stars hang out. The lighter colors closer to the middle highlight older and cooler stars.
The Lost Galaxy view is part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS, or PHANGS, survey, which includes a collection of data on star formation. The galaxy resides in the constellation Virgo at a distance of 50 million light-years from Earth, but Hubble makes it feel like it’s close to home.