Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

221,571 subscribers and counting ...

Lonely galaxy

NGC 6503 resides at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void.

View larger. | Galaxy NGC 6503. It lies 30,000 light-years away, at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void.

View larger. | A new Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxy NGC 6503. Bright red patches of gas can be seen scattered through the galaxy’s swirling spiral arms, mixed with bright blue regions that contain newly-forming stars. Dark brown dust lanes snake across the galaxy’s bright arms and center. Image via NASA, ESA

Here is a new image of lonely galaxy NGC 6503, located some 18 million light-years from our Milky Way, in the direction of what we see as the constellation Draco the Dragon. It is one of our Milky Way’s closest neighbors, and belongs to our Local Group of galaxies. Yet you might consider it “lonely” because it resides on the edge of a patch of space – some 150 million light-years across – that seems to be curiously devoid of galaxies.

This empty region is known as the Local Void.

It’s relatively empty, and yet its very emptiness affects our Milky Way. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered the Milky Way is being strongly pulled away from the Local Void by the gentle but relentless gravitational tug of galaxies in other parts of space.

NGC 6503, located at the edge of the Local Void, spans some 30,000 light-years, making it about a third of the size of the Milky Way.

Via Hubble Space Telescope

Enjoying EarthSky so far? Sign up for our free daily newsletter today!

Deborah Byrd

MORE ARTICLES