Galaxies never fail to amaze us, even today, when astronomers know very well that there are billions of them in the observable Universe. Furthermore, trying to imagine how many of them might exist in the entire nature, meaning going beyond the observable part of the Universe, is even more mind-boggling.
NASA’s Hubble telescope keeps pointing its powerful gears towards the depths of the Cosmos, even now, at 32 years since its launch. It’s amazing to see the old telescope’s endurance when the more advanced James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is also up there and getting ready to send back precious data!
Meet NGC 474, an elliptical galaxy covered by a “shell”
According to space.com, Hubble snapped a new photo of a galaxy much larger than the Milky Way and located very far away: 100 million light-years from Earth. The galaxy is known as NGC 474, and it’s 2.5 times larger than the one where we all exist. NGC 474 measures 250,000 light-years across. But the weirdest aspect of the galaxy is another one: it seems to be covered by a mysterious shell, as you can see for yourself in the image below:
Take a look at a galaxy that is 2.5 times larger than the Milky Way! 🌌 @NASAHubble captured the central region of the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 474. The galaxy has a series of complex layered shells that surround its spherical-shaped core.
More HERE: https://t.co/otNIA6bdWp
— NASA Marshall (@NASA_Marshall) May 23, 2022
Nobody knows what exactly are those shells, but one hypothesis says that they could be the outcome of a merge with a smaller galaxy or more of them. That scenario could lead to the creation of waves in the form of shells.
NASA said in a statement quoted by space.com:
About 10% of elliptical galaxies have shell structures, but unlike the majority of elliptical galaxies, which are associated with galaxy clusters, shelled ellipticals usually lie in relatively empty space,
It may be that they’ve cannibalized their neighbors.
Perhaps at this point, the real curiosity is what kind of galaxies the JWST will discover. We can expect to find out pretty soon!