Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2005 April 8
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Sideways Galaxy NGC 3628
Credit & Copyright: Russell Croman

Explanation: Dark dust lanes cutting across the middle of this gorgeous island universe strongly hint that NGC 3628 is a spiral galaxy seen sideways. About 35 million light-years away in the northern springtime constellation Leo, NGC 3628 also bears the distinction of being the only member of the well known Leo triplet of galaxies not in Charles Messier's famous catalog. Otherwise similar in size to our Milky Way galaxy, the disk of NGC 3628 is clearly seen to fan out near the galaxy's edge. A faint arm of material also extends up and to the left in this deep view of the region. The distorted shape and tidal tail suggest that NGC 3628 is interacting gravitationally with the other spiral galaxies in the Leo triplet, M66 and M65.

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