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Hubble's Historic Shots

Heavenly Mysteries

Still an astrophysical mystery, the evolution of the bulges in spiral galaxies led astronomers to the edge-on galaxy NGC4710. When starring directly at the center of the galaxy, one can detect a faint, ethereal "X”-shaped structure. Such a feature, which astronomers call a "boxy" or "peanut-shaped" bulge, is due to the vertical motions of the stars in the galaxy's bar and is only evident when the galaxy is seen edge-on. This curiously shaped puff is often observed in spiral galaxies with small bulges and open arms, but is less common in spirals with arms tightly wrapped around a more prominent bulge, such as NGC4710.

(AP Photo/NASA/ESA)

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