Wispy arms swirling out from a bright, elongated core distinguish a particular kind of spiral galaxy known as a barred spiral, seen here in this Hubble Space Telescope image.
July 17 | 2017
Residing about 30 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Lynx, this galaxy was first discovered by British astronomer William Herschel over 200 years ago. Barred spirals are actually more common than was once thought. Around two-thirds of all spiral galaxies – including the Milky Way – exhibit these straight bars cutting through their centers. These cosmic structures act as glowing nurseries for newborn stars, and funnel material towards the active core of a galaxy. This galaxy is still actively forming new stars, although this process appears to be occurring very unevenly. The upper half of the galaxy – where the spiral arms are slightly better defined – hosts many more star-forming regions than the lower half, as indicated by the bright, dotted islands of light. Credit: ESA/Hubble/NASA