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The edge-on S0 galaxy NGC 3115

Date created: 1982-03-28

Tags: N/A

Classifying galaxies has been (and remains) an important part of understanding them. The broad categories of elegantly structured, disk-like spirals and the featureless fuzzy spheroids of ellipticals are easy enough, but there are many subtypes and intermediate varieties that reveal much about galactic evolution.

Here we see a galaxy that has the thin disk of a spiral (seen edge-on) but no obvious inner structure or hint of star formation that distinguishes a normal spiral galaxy. However, it does not like like an elliptical either. Such galaxies are known as S0 [S-zero] or lenticular (lens-shaped) galaxies and may be spiral galaxies that have been stripped of their gas and dust by gravitational interactions with others. NGC 3115 is larger than the Milky Way, and is 30 million light years away in the direction of Sextans.

Image derived from an AAT plate taken in blue light.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory