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Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1512


Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 snapped this wide view of the nearby barred spiral galaxy NGC 1512. A wispy bar of material can barely be seen slicing vertically through the galaxy. The bar is funneling gas to the heart of the galaxy, fueling a ring of star birth. Blue-colored stars along the galaxy's outer edge trace the grand spiral arms.



What is a barred spiral galaxy? It is a common type of spiral galaxy in which the pinwheel-like arms arise from each end of a bright central bar of gas and stars rather than from the center as in normal spirals. Although astronomers aren't certain how a bar forms, they believe it may be created by instabilities in a galaxy's disk of gas and stars, perhaps caused by an interaction with another galaxy. In Hubble's close-up view of the core of NGC 1512, the bar is too faint to see.


Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Maoz (Tel-Aviv University and Columbia University)

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