Image Credit: R Jay Gabany (Blackbird Obs.) (In collaboration with: David Martinez-Delgado (MPIA, IAC), et al.)

This gorgeous spiral galaxy, known as the Bubble Galaxy (formally designated ‘NGC 3521’), is located more than 35 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation of Leo. Practically a hop and a skip away (in cosmological terms!) The galaxy  is one of the more brightly lit objects seen in our night sky, though it pales in comparison to the nearby galaxies of M66 & M55 (the ‘Leo Triplet Galaxies’).

One of the more interesting aspects of NGC 3521 is the bubble-like apparition that surrounds its core. This shell was likely created after a series of mergers took place between the primary galaxy and several smaller satellite galaxies, leaving behind a stream of stellar material that eventually formed a tidal tail, which in turn, has encased the galaxy.

The pinkish region near the galactic center is home to several clusters of stars. Their formation sparked after the mergers took place, igniting a star-burst phase, giving birth to a plethora of hot, high-mass blue-white stars.

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