Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Humphreys (University of Minnesota)

This unusually celestial region is called Messier 85 (also known as NGC 4382), a lenticular galaxy located more than 60 million light-years from Earth (in the constellation of Coma Berenices).

Messier 85 is a member of the Virgo cluster, which is home to more than 1,500 galaxies. Another galaxy among this group, known as NGC 4394, is responsible for the galaxy's unusual structure. (A smaller elliptical galaxy is also involved, but the extent to which remains unknown) The cataclysmic event between the two galaxies took place several billion years ago; when a gravitational perturbation dismantled the galaxy piece-by-piece, leaving behind something very different in its place.

 

During the collision and merger, Messier 85 lost most of its spiral structure, with the ripples still settling throughout the outer shell despite the amount of time that has since passed.

 


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