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NGC 5078, interacting galaxy with dust lane

Date created: 1993-07-30

Tags: galaxy, spiral, dust


NGC 5078 is a lenticular (lens-shaped) galaxy crossed by a distinct dusty band which is seen against the bright background of the galaxy itself. The dust lane is warped and broadened, probably by interaction with the faint companion galaxy IC 879, which is itself distorted into an 'S' shape by the interaction. The slightly bluish colour of parts of the fainter galaxy is suggestive of star formation, probably triggered by the interaction. Encounters between galaxies such as this are common, and often lead to them merging into a single entity. It is likely that the dust lane of NGC 5078 is the remnant of a dusty spiral which fell into it long ago. These galaxies are about 80 million light years distant in the meandering constellation of Hydra.

Photograph made from plates taken in March, 1993.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 9.5 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory