Space Scientists Take a Closer Look at Lenticular Galaxies

To study how galaxies evolve and change over time 

Space information (February 03, 2015) – lenticular galaxies –

Lenticular galaxies are a class of galaxy space scientists have always considered to be an intermediate form between spiral and elliptical class galaxies. This type of galaxy is characterized by a prominent central bulge and disk, with no obvious arms like the Milky Way. More recently, space scientists are starting to think lenticular galaxies could be the end result of a collision between galaxies, resulting in the different varieties recorded during the human journey to the beginning of space and time.

The Hubble Space Telescope image below shows Arp 230 (IC 51), an oddly-shaped galaxy recorded in Halton Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, classified as a lenticular galaxy. NASA space scientists studying Arp 230 believe the funny-looking shape of this galaxy is the end result of a collision between two galaxies smaller than our own Milky Way.

This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
This image shows Arp 230, also known as IC 51, observed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The ring of light seen surrounding the galaxy is gas, dust, and stars orbiting the poles of the galaxy they call a polar ring. Space scientists think this is mainly composed of remnants of the smaller of the two colliding galaxies, which was perpendicular to the disk of the larger galaxy during their merger. Space scientists believe this would have resulted in the formation of the polar ring as the smaller galaxy was torn to pieces by the chaos.

NASA scientists and astronomers studying and classifying lenticular galaxies are now going over each galaxy in this classification to see if they can find more data to support their ideas. At the same time, they’ll begin conducting computer simulations using available data to obtain a better understanding of lenticular galaxies.

You can learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope here.

You can learn more about galaxies and their evolution here.

You can learn more about lenticular galaxies here.

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