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A Bizarre Cosmic Rarity
RA 01hr 43m 02.35s Dec +13° 38' 44.45"
45 million light years
8.4' x 2.7'
ESA/Hubble & NASA
December 2, 2013
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
This new Hubble image shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 660, located around 45 million light-years away from us.
NGC 660 is classified as a "polar ring galaxy", meaning that it has a belt of gas and stars around its center that it ripped from a nearby neighbor during a clash about one billion years ago. The first polar ring galaxy was observed in 1978 and only around a dozen more have been discovered since then, making them something of a cosmic rarity.
NGC 660s polar ring cannot be seen in this image, but has plenty
of other features that make it of interest to astronomers its central
bulge is strangely off-kilter and, perhaps more intriguingly, it is thought
to harbor exceptionally large amounts of dark matter. In addition, in
late 2012 astronomers observed a massive outburst emanating from NGC 660
that was around ten times as bright as a supernova explosion. This burst
was thought to be caused by a massive jet shooting out of the supermassive
black hole at the center of the galaxy.