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11.14.13

A Galaxy on the Edge

The thin edge of a distant spiral galaxy appears in sharp relief in the new image from NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared light gives astronomers a unique way of seeing the distribution of stars in such well-aligned galaxies.

This galaxy, called UGC 10288, is located 100 million light-years away. It is spiral in shape, but from our viewpoint on Earth, we are seeing its thin edge. Infrared observations of such edge-on galaxies penetrate the thick clouds of dust that wrap through the spiral arms and block visible light views. The bright glow of dense starfields that run along the galaxy's central plane, and in its core, are easily seen.

This image was taken after Spitzer's liquid coolant ran dry in May 2009, marking the beginning of its "warm" mission. Light from the telescope's remaining infrared channels are colored blue at 3.6 microns and green at 4.5 microns.