NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has taken a picture of the spiral galaxy NGC 4980, located around 80 million light years away in the constellation of Hydra.
The shape of the galaxy appears slightly deformed, something which is often a sign of recent tidal interactions with another galaxy.
The image was produced as part of a research program into the nature of galactic bulges, the bright, dense, elliptical centers of galaxies, according to the Hubble site. Classical bulges are relatively disordered, with stars orbiting the galactic center in all directions. In contrast, in galaxies with so-called pseudobulges, or disc-type bulges, the movement of the spiral arms is preserved right to the center of the galaxy.
Although the spiral structure is relatively subtle in this image, astronomers have shown that the galaxy has a disc-type bulge, and its rotating spiral structure extends to the very center of NGC 4980.
The galaxy’s arms are traced out by blue pockets of extremely hot newborn stars are visible across much of its disc. This sets it apart from the reddish galaxies visible in the background, which are distant elliptical galaxies made up of much older, and hence redder, stars.