Although the Universe is infinite most galaxies are in fact close to each other, forming clusters or groups so they are never too far away from each other. However NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a lonely galaxy called NGC 6503 which lies at the edge of an empty patch of space known as the Local Void.
The lonely galaxy, also known as TC 575 or LEDA 60921 is found in the northern circumpolar constellation of Draco. This means that it is nearly 20.4 million light-years from Earth. NGC 6503 spans about 30.000 light-years which means a third of the size of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Local Void near which the galaxy finds itself is an immense stretch of space apparently without galaxies or starts and it is approximately 150 million light-years across. The position of the lonely galaxy made the astronomer Stephen James O’Meara to call it in his book from 2007 the “Lost-in-space galaxy”.
The new photos were taken using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 which enabled scientists to have a better look at it. Previously the images of this galaxy were not so detailed. The bright red regions which can be observed in the pictures suggest the presence of gas in the spiral arms of the galaxy. The bright blue regions are a sign of hotbeds of new star formation, while the dark brown ones indicate lanes of dust present throughout the arms of the galaxy.
It seems that the central bulge of the lonely galaxy almost does not even exist and it is surrounded by a huge cloud of gas. Although there is a large halo of gas, the gas hole at the core of the galaxy is considered to be weak because it receives only black hole food, which is a small amount of infalling gas.
The central part of NGC 6503 is a good example of a phenomenon known as LINER, which means “low ionisation nuclear emission region”. These galaxies are less bright than other galaxies which are most luminous. Scientists believe that the emissions from the lonely galaxy’s heart are the result of a starved black hole which is barely kept alive by receiving a tiny amount of infalling gas; just enough to keep its appetite at bay.
Image Source: Rapid News Network