The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a new image of NGC 7049, a mysterious looking galaxy that blurs the boundary between spiral and elliptical galaxies.
NGC 7049 is found in the constellation of Indus, and is the brightest of a cluster of galaxies, a so-called Brightest Cluster Galaxy. They represent some of the oldest and most massive galaxies, and they allow astronomers to study the elusive globular clusters lurking within.
Globular clusters are very dense and compact groupings of a few hundreds of thousands of young stars bound together by gravity. The globular clusters in NGC 7049 are seen as the sprinkling of small faint points of light in the galaxy’s halo. The halo – the ghostly region of diffuse light surrounding the galaxy – comprises myriad individual stars and provides a luminous background to the remarkable swirling ring of dust lanes surrounding NGC 7049’s core. The dust lanes appear as a lacy ring.
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The image was taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys on Hubble, which is optimized to hunt for galaxies and galaxy clusters in the remote and ancient Universe, at a time when our cosmos was very young.
The constellation of Indus, or the Indian, is one of the least conspicuous in the southern sky. It was named in the 16th century by Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius from observations made by Dutch navigator Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Dutch explorer Frederick de Houtman.
Source: NASA/ESA Hubble site