The Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has snapped a spectacular view of one of the flattest galaxies known – the spiral galaxy IC 2233.
Typical spiral galaxies are usually made up of three principal visible components: the disk where the spiral arms and most of the gas and dust is concentrated; the halo, a rough and sparse sphere around the disk that contains little gas, dust or star formation; and the central bulge at the heart of the disk, which is formed by a large concentration of ancient stars surrounding the Galactic Center.
The galaxy, labeled IC 2233, is far from being typical.
IC 2233, located in the constellation of Lynx some 40 million light-years away, is a prime example of a superthin galaxy. Its diameter is at least ten times larger than the thickness.
Such galaxies consist of a simple disk of stars when seen edge on. This orientation makes them fascinating to study, giving another perspective on spiral galaxies.
An important characteristic of superthin galaxies is that they have a low brightness and almost all of them have no bulge at all.
The bluish color that can be seen along the IC 2233’s disk indicates the presence of hot, luminous, young stars, born out of clouds of interstellar gas.
IC 2233 also shows no well-defined dust lane. Only a few small patchy regions can be identified in the inner regions both above and below the galaxy’s mid-plane.