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NGC 3628, an edge-on galaxy in the Leo Group

Date created: 1989-03-01

Tags: galaxy, spiral, dust

Probably the most interesting member of the Leo triplet was too faint for Messier to see, so it does not appear in his catalogue. The derivatives from the plates from which this picture was made have been specially enhanced to reveal faint detail in NGC 3628, which is seen as an edge-on spiral galaxy, crossed by a dust lane. Galaxies seen edge-on are rare, but this example has other peculiarities. The dust lane is distinctly askew and the ends of the spiral arms are obviously puffed out, with evidence of star formation. The bright bulge of the galaxy also has an unusual 'peanut' shape. This suggests that the galaxies of the Leo group are interacting, gradually pulling each other apart as they orbit each other. Paradoxically, this will lead to their eventual merger.

Photograph made from plates taken in February 1989.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 17 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory