The “X” Mystery at the Center of Spiral Galaxies

6a00d8341bf7f753ef012875daee9b970c-320wi Astronomy can be the most awesome and annoying thing in the world.  The universe is rife with stunningly interesting events in every direction, but we're at the mercy of whether we're actually able to see them – we can't exactly get out of our Earth-seat and move for a better look.  Imagine an IMAX movie explaining the meaning of life and how to clear your credit card, but you can only watch it from inside a rotating mailbox.

One such stellar sight is the "bulge" around the center of galaxies.  Spiral galaxies seem to feature an odd X-wing shape around their center, odd dust tracks at and angle to the galactic plane, and before we can explain them we have to be able to see them: specifically, we need a galaxy that happens to be edge-on from where we are to afford us an end view.  Like NGC 4710, recently imaged by the Hubble telescope.

The wonderfully clear shots from the satellite have spurred renewed debate along the lines of "What the hell is happening here?" The data depicts a significantly bulged galaxy with very few orbiting globular clusters – like "moons" orbiting around a galaxy, only made of a dense cluster of stars.

This indicates that the bulges, whatever they are, accrue slowly over a galactic evolution instead of suddenly spewing out as the galaxy forms.

Of course, the question is nowhere near answered.  So we guess we'll just have to keep examining the wonder of the universe and using our brains to work it all out.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA/Hubble


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