Hubble's view of Hoag's Object
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NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA
New Pictures of Hoag’s Object!
News story originally written on September 12, 2002
The Hubble Space Telescope has recently taken some exciting pictures of Hoag’s Object, a somewhat mysterious galaxy that is 600 million light years from Earth.
The galaxy was named after Art Hoag, the astronomer who found it in 1950. Located in the constellation Serpens, Hoag’s Object is about the size of our galaxy but has an unusual shape with a blue ring of young massive stars and a yellow center of older cooler stars. It is so unusual that Art Hoag did not know it was a galaxy when he first found it. He first thought that it was a nebula, but later suggested that it was, in fact, a galaxy.
Astronomers know several different ways that ring shaped galaxies can form, but the unusual shape of Hoag’s Object appears to have formed in a unique way. It is unlike other ring shaped galaxies, which often form by collision with another galaxy, because Hoag’s Object shows no signs of collision. Astronomers suspect that the outer ring of stars was formed two to three billion years ago when a galaxy passing nearby left young stars behind.
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