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.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.