In a desert-like zone of our universe lies a galaxy that is uncharacteristically alone and majestic in size and coloring as the Hubble Telescope images reveal.
Meet the NGC6503, also known as LEDA 60921 or TC575, a spiral dwarf galaxy that is located in the Local Void – as the desert-like area is known, and approximately 18 million light-years from our own Earth.
The NGC6503 was photographed by the Hubble Telescope. The image that shows the lonely galaxy was released simultaneously by the European Space Agency and NASA on Wednesday.
The location of NGC6503 at a far edge of the Local Void, a vast space that has no other galaxies in sight, prompted Stephen James O’Meara to dearly call this galaxy “lost in space” in his Hidden Treasures book, released in 2007.
More exact coordinates place NGC6503 in the circumpolar constellation named Draco. Draco lies 20.4 million light-years distance from our own planet. The dwarf galaxy that pertains to Draco constellation is estimated at a fifth of the size of Milky Way, with a 30,000 light-years in width.
The curious thing about the galaxy is that it is alone in the Local Void. Galaxies that have been observed so far are known to be grouped. Our own Milky Way is part of a wider group of 54 other galaxies, a conglomerate that is dubbed the Local Group.
NGC6503 is atypical from this perspective. It is adrift in this desertic area spanning 150 million light-years. The dire emptiness of the Local Void is however exerting influence on Milky Way as well, while nearby galaxies are gently pulling us away from it.
The ‘lost in space’ galaxy reveals a beautifully coloured composition in the Hubble beamed image. Intense red patches of gas are visible in the spiral arms of the NGC6503, beautifully mingling with the blue regions which indicate newly born stars.
These brightly coloured areas are then wrapped up by brown dust lanes which feature from the extremities of the spiraling arms to the center of the lonely galaxy.
The center is quite an interesting phenomenon for astronomers as it appears to be a black hole barely kept active by very small amounts of gas and keeping the galaxy from being as brightly lighted as others.
The new image captured by Hubble is an improvement over the NGC6503 image that was captured in 2007 and released in 2010. The galaxy can be admired in all its beauty, while for astronomers it offers an extended base for increasingly accurate analysis. The splashes of light captured in 2007 are nowhere near the clarity of the new image.
Perhaps more images of the ‘lost-in-space’ galaxy, NG6503 will be coming in over the next years while Hubble is still out there. The NASA telescope already celebrates 25 years in space and it is expected that 2018 will see its replacement with the James Webb Space Telescope.
Image Source: NASA