This is NGC 4753, a lenticular galaxy located about 60 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. A lenticular galaxy is an intermediate type of galaxy between a spiral galaxy and an elliptical galaxy, and although it has a central bulge and disc structure, it does not have the spiral arms that characterize spiral galaxies.
Among these lenticular galaxies, NGC 4753 has a somewhat unique appearance. The dark brown web-like structures embedded in the pale glow are dust-rich trails. NGC 4753's dust lanes appear to surround a bright central core, split in two, and twist in a complex manner.
Nearly 30 years ago, in 1992, a research team led by Tom Steiman-Cameron determined that the warped dust lane in NGC 4753 had merged with a dwarf galaxy about 1.3 billion years earlier than its currently observed form, and announced the results of the research that it formed in The National Optical and Infrared Astronomy Laboratory (NOIRLab) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) explains the process as follows:
NGC 4753 was a standard lenticular galaxy, but its merger with a gas-rich dwarf galaxy led to the formation of an exploding star, injecting large amounts of dust. The dust is spread into a disk shape due to gravity and revolves around the central nucleus, but the direction of its orbital axis changes in a circular manner due to precession. The speed of precession is faster when approaching the center and slower when moving away from the center. In other words, the speed at which the direction of the orbital axis of the dust changes at different distances from the center is different, which is the reason for the current observation and this indicates the possibility of the formation of a twisted dust band. This precession is believed to be caused by the angle at which NGC 4753 and the dwarf galaxy collided.
Also, according to research by Stayman-Cameron and others, the shape of the dust bar in NGC 4753 when viewed from directly above is thought to be not much different from that of a typical spiral galaxy. Since NGC 4573 is facing directly to the side, we can see the dust lane is twisted, but if it doesn't look twisted from directly above, then the dust lane is actually “kinked.” There may be others, and it seems possible that they are not uncommon throughout the universe.
The image was initially captured using the Gemini South telescope at the Gemini Observatory in Cerro Pachón, Chile, and published by NOIRLab on January 25, 2024. “For a long time, no one knew how to understand this galaxy,” said Steman Cameron, now a senior research scientist at Indiana University. But we started with the idea that the accreted material would spread out in a disk shape, and we started developing a three-dimensional shape. Our analysis solved the puzzle, and now, 30 years later, we are very excited to be able to view high-resolution images from the Gemini South Telescope.
- NOIRLab – Gemini South captures a dusty, warped disk of NGC 4753, displaying traces of a past merger
Text Editing/Syrian Studies Department
“Travel maven. Beer expert. Subtly charming alcohol fan. Internet junkie. Avid bacon scholar.”