Splendid image of galaxy NGC 7252 from Hubble!

The spiral galaxy has a superficial resemblance to an atomic nucleus surrounded by the loops of electronic orbits.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2015, 21:26 PM IST
Splendid image of galaxy NGC 7252 from Hubble!
Image credit: NASA & ESA, Acknowledgements: Judy Schmidt

Washington: The ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope recently captured a stunning image of the spiral galaxy named NGC 7252.

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According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the spiral galaxy has a superficial resemblance to an atomic nucleus surrounded by the loops of electronic orbits.

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NGC 7252 is also called 'Atoms for Peace' galaxy, a nickname which comes from its loop-like structure, made of stars, that resembles a diagram of an electron orbiting an atomic nucleus.

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These loops are well visible in a wider field of view image.

The loop-like outer structures, likely made up of dust and stars flung outwards by the crash, but recalling orbiting electrons in an atom, are partly responsible for the galaxy’s nickname.

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Its peculiar appearance is the result of a collision between two galaxies that took place about a billion years ago, which ripped both galaxies apart.

The Hubble image shows the inner parts of the galaxy NGC 7252, revealing a pinwheel-shaped disk that is rotating in a direction opposite to the rest of the galaxy.

This disk resembles a spiral galaxy like our own galaxy, the Milky Way. But it is only about 10,000 light-years across - about a tenth of the size of the Milky Way. It is believed that this whirling structure is a remnant of the galactic collision.

NGC 7252 is a 12.7 magnitude peculiar galaxy and is located 220 million light years away in the constellation Aquarius. 

(Source: NASA/European Space Agency)