Twisted Spiral Spotted By Hubble
The Hubble Telescope has captured a stunning new image of a distant twisted spiral galaxy deformed by gravitational tug of its neighbor.

NGC 3718 is a highly disturbed spiral galaxy with an unusual, warped shape that looks a bit like a plump letter “s”  from Earth, with a thin thread of dark dust snaking through it. Hubble’s view of this portion of NGC 3718 shows the sinuous, twisting dust lane in detail as it sweeps by the core of the galaxy and curves into the surrounding gas. Both the galaxy’s gas and dust lane are similarly distorted into this unique configuration.

The nucleus of the galaxy is extremely hard to detect in either visible or ultraviolet light because the prominent dust lane blocks much of those wavelengths, but it can be seen when viewing infrared light, which passes through dusty regions. NGC 3718, also called Arp 214, is thought to get its unusual shape from gravitational interaction with nearby galaxy NGC 3729, another spiral galaxy located approximately 150,000 light-years away. Among the features likely caused by this interaction are the line of reddish star formation that extends toward the 9 o’clock position, and the dark tendril of dust that reaches toward the 7 o’clock position.

Hubble took this image in infrared and visible light as part of a study of the central regions of disk-shaped galaxies with prominent bulges of stars in multiple environments. The study was meant to help clarify the relationship between the mass of supermassive black holes and the properties of galactic bulges; and to investigate star formation on a galactic scale, from the region around the nucleus to a galaxy’s disk.

Interesting Fun Facts
  • NGC 3718 is a Galaxy in a Pair of Galaxies in the constellation of Ursa Major.
  • It is recorded as NGC 3718 in the New General Catalogue. This is a list of deep space objects that was compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888 in an update to John Herschel earlier catalogue.
  • According to Caltech, the distance from Earth and NGC 3718 is between a computed distance of 33,594,106.90 and 55,772,740.59 light years. The mean average distance is 47,837,355.92 Light Years.
NGC 3718 Location

The NGC 3718’s location is 11 32 34.8527469396 (R.A.) and +53 04 04.494313634 (Dec.). The Right Ascension is the angular distance of an object along the celestial equator from the March Equinox. As rough guide, the location is located in the constellation of Pisces. If the number is negative, it is “west” of the March Equinox. The Declination is the angle of the object from the celestial equator. A negative value indicates it is in the southern hemisphere.

NGC 3718 Diameter (Calculated)

The diameter of NGC 3718 is an estimation, it is based on a calculation rather than a peer written paper. I am assuming 3,261,633.44 Light Years to a Megaparsec. The diameter of NGC 3718 is 71,385.66 light years.

To put this in context, the Milky Way Galaxy, that is the galaxy that we currently reside in is about 100,000 Light Years across. The NGC 3718 is therefore small than our home galaxy.

Angular Size

The Angular Size is the size given as arc minutes which can be roughly turned into light years if you know the distance to the object. Formula is Distance * Tan ((MA/60)/(180/Pi)) MA is the Major Axis value. It probably won’t give you a peer reviewed size, but it’ll give you an idea of how big it is. Distance can be whatever measurement you want, Parsec, Lightyears, Megaparsecs.

  • 5.13 is the major axis of the object, the length.
  • 2.51 is the minor axis of the object, the width.
  • 180 is the angle of orientation of NGC 3718.
  • D is an indicator of quality, A being the best quality and E being the worst.

Main Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and L. Ho (Peking University); Image Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top
Share to...