ESA / Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team
In the 1950s, when amateur astronomer Leland S. Copeland first installed a telescope lens on a distant galaxy in the constellation Virgo, he saw a frightening spiral enveloped in dust.
Copeland, who was a professional poet fond of writing about the universe, called the spiral galaxy “the lost galaxy,” a name that stuck with it for about 70 years after that.
This galaxy is known by scientists as NGC 4535 and the constellation Virgo is located about 50 million light-years from Earth.
When viewed through NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the fog that engulfed the lost Copeland Galaxy disappears to reveal a vibrant sea of stars not very different from the Milky Way.
And like our own, the “lost galaxy” is a ribbed spiral galaxy: a massive swirl of stars with a distinctive structure at its center. And according to NASA, the colors of those stars could tell us a bit about the history of the galaxy.
In a statement, NASA representatives wrote that the yellowish glow of the central bulge of the galaxy indicated the path to the oldest and coldest “lost galaxy” stars. Meanwhile, the bright blue clouds clustered together in the spiral arms of the galaxy reveal where its hotter and younger stars congregate, illuminating the gas and dust around them.
Today, the lost galaxy is not difficult to find (especially for floating observatories like Hubble). In fact, its long elegant arms make it a prime candidate for studying the structure of spiral galaxies.
NASA released the galaxy image on January 11 as part of an ongoing survey of 38 spiral galaxies located 75 million light-years from Earth.
This galaxy was studied as part of the program “Physics at High Angle Resolution in Near Galaxy Surveying” (PHANGS), which aims to clarify the many links between cold gas clouds, star formation, general shape and other properties of galaxies.
Source: Live Science