November 29, 2023

Ghostly Galaxies: Hubble’s Glimpse Into the Ethereal NGC 6684

Lenticular Galaxy NGC 6684Lenticular Galaxy NGC 6684

Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys reveals the ghostly NGC 6684, a lenticular galaxy located 44 million light-years away in the constellation Pavo. This observation is part of a program surveying all galaxies within a 10-megaparsec radius not previously visited by Hubble, enriching our knowledge of galactic variety. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Tully

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured an illuminating image of the lenticular galaxy NGC 6684, located around 44 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pavo.

The Hubble Space Telescope reveals a mesmerizing image of the lenticular galaxy NGC 6684, bathed in a soft light. This image was captured using Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). The galaxy is located approximately 44 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Pavo. Named from the Latin term for peacock, Pavo is a constellation situated in the southern sky. It is one of four constellations collectively known as the Southern Birds.

Characteristics of Lenticular Galaxies

Lenticular galaxies, such as NGC 6684, are lens-shaped in their structure (lenticular means lens-shaped). They have a large disc but lack the prominent spiral arms characteristic of galaxies like the Andromeda Galaxy. This leaves them positioned somewhere between elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies, and results in a diffuse, ghostly appearance. Further enhancing its spectral and somewhat insubstantial appearance, NGC 6684 lacks the dark dust lanes typically seen threading through other galaxies.

The Universal Galaxy Census

The data for this image were collected during a program titled ‘Every Known Nearby Galaxy,’ which aims to observe all galaxies within a range of 10 megaparsecs, or approximately 32.6 million light-years. This initiative targets galaxies not previously observed by the telescope. Prior to the start of this program, Hubble had observed roughly 75% of these proximate galaxies. The completion of this census is expected to provide valuable insights into the stars that make up a broad variety of galaxies across a multitude of environments.