Nasa’s Hubble space telescope has sent back images of a strange lonely galaxy called NGC 6503 in striking detail and also with a rich set of colours.
NGC 6503 is 18 million light-years away from us in the northern circumpolar constellation of Draco. NGC 6503 spans some 30,000 light-years, about a third of the size of the Milky Way.
Whereas most galaxies are found in clusters, this galaxy has found itself in a lonely position, at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void. The Local Void seems completely empty of stars or galaxies and is a huge stretch of space that is at least 150 million light-years across.
The galaxy’s odd location led astronomer Stephen James O’Meara to call it the “Lost-In-Space galaxy” in his 2007 book, Hidden Treasures.
The images reveal bright red patches of gas scattered through its swirling spiral arms. There are also bright blue regions that contain newly forming stars.
Dark brown dust lanes snake across the galaxy’s bright arms and center, giving it a mottled appearance. The Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys data for NGC 6503 were taken in April 2003, and the Wide Field Camera 3 data were taken in August 2013.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between Nasa and the European Space Agency.