NGC 4424 (Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Gilles Chapdelaine)

Meet NGC 4424: an interesting spiral galaxy located at a distance of 54 million light-years from Earth, toward the constellation of Virgo. From any other vantage point, its spiral nature would be clearer, but since we're looking at it edge-on, its spiral arms are shielded from view.

To the left of the primary galaxy is a smaller one called LEDA 213994. Not pictured, however, is a supernova—found by the Lick Observatory Supernova Search project—that first appeared in 2012, called SN 2012cg.

Otherwise known as UGC 7561, NGC 4424 is a member of the Virgo Cluster—a large group of galaxies in which 1,000 to 2,000 galaxies (including Messier 100, Messier 98 and Messier 87) belong to. Like many other galaxies within clusters, NGC 4424 appears to have experienced some turbulence in its past—turbulence in the form of a gravitational perturbation, perhaps with an unseen neighbor.

Astronomers note that it exhibits the most clear evidence of 'significant' interactions within the cluster itself, which presents itself in the form of the galaxy's banana-shaped disk. This interaction increased star formation activity within the confines of NGC 4424, but that activity will wane over the course of the next 3 billion years, as the galaxy consumes the remainder of its hydrogen gas content.

See a larger image here.


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