Image Credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble

This unassuming object is ESO 499-G37, a stunning spiral galaxy found about 59 million light-years from Earth in the Hydra constellation.

From this angled vantage point,  Hubble resolves its loose, faint spiral arms, which are the location of fervent star formation activity (seen in blue and white near the galaxy's offset central core). Said stars are large, young and extremely hot, forming as a result of the amount of material concentrated in said spiral arms.

We also get an unprecedented view of its strange, elongated nucleus. In most spiral galaxies, including this one, the central nucleus is the most active region, containing the highest density of stars. However, instead of being a hub of star formation, these regions usually contain cooler, more evolved stars, which forge a central bar.

Additionally, new research suggests that ESO 499-G37's indeed has a bar, but it's much smaller than expected. Instead of spanning a few thousand light-years across, this galaxy's nucleus sits inside a bar that's only several hundreds of light-years across, making it just 1/10th the size of a typical galactic bar found in a typical spiral galaxy.

"Astronomers think that such small bars could be important in the formation of galactic bulges since they might provide a mechanism for bringing material from the outer regions down to the inner ones. However, the connection between bars and bulge formation is still not clear since bars are not a universal feature in spiral galaxies," notes the Hubble collaborative team.

See a larger image here.

 


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