The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has captured an amazing image of the IC 335 galaxy with other galaxies as backdrop.
The HST was built by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA). The HST has helped scientists find many galaxies and has also transmitted many images since it was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990.
The IC 335 is located within the Fornax Galaxy Cluster, which contains three more galaxies and is 60 million light-years away from the Earth. It is around 45,000 light-years long.
In the latest HST photo, the galaxy's disk appears to be edge-on from the vantage point of the Earth, which makes it difficult to categorize it. However, due to the galaxy's long distance, it can be categorized as an S0 type.
"These lenticular galaxies are an intermediate state in galaxy morphological classification schemes between true spiral and elliptical galaxies. They have a thin stellar disk and a bulge, like spiral galaxies, but in contrast to typical spiral galaxies they have used up most of the interstellar medium," stated NASA.
The U.S. space agency reveals that the rate of star formation is extremely low in such galaxies and just a few fresh stars are created from leftover materials in the galaxy. NASA suggests that such galaxies contain only a small number of aging stars. A similar situation is found in elliptical galaxies.
S0 galaxies are sometimes mistaken as elliptical galaxies due to the ill-defined spiral arms. S0 galaxies and elliptical galaxies are different, but they have some similar characteristics such as spectral features and typical sizes.
Galaxy types are classified as "early-type" due to the fact that they are passively evolving. However, scientists have also observed that elliptical galaxies have had violent exchanges with some other galaxies despite evolving passively.
In comparison to elliptical galaxies, an S0 galaxy is a fading spiral or aging galaxy, which has never had interactions with any other galaxies. These galaxies are fading due to a merger of two spiral galaxies. The precise nature of such galaxies causes a debate in the astronomers' community.