NASA’s Hubble space telescope has snapped an exceptionally detailed image of the spiral galaxy NGC 4565, aka the Needle Galaxy.
The bright galaxy is one of the most famous examples of an edge-on spiral galaxy, oriented perpendicularly to our line of sight so we see right into its luminous disc.
According to the space agency, NGC 4565 has been nicknamed the Needle Galaxy because, when seen in full, it appears as a very narrow streak of light on the sky.
The edgewise view into the Needle Galaxy shown here looks very similar to the view we have from our Solar System into the core of our very own Milky Way Galaxy.
In both cases, ribbons of dust block some of the light coming from the galactic disc. To the lower right, the dust stands in even starker contrast against the copious yellow light from the star-filled central regions. NGC 4565’s core is off camera to the lower right.
Studying galaxies like NGC 4565 helps astronomers learn more about the Milky Way.
Fortunately, at a distance of “only” approximately 40 million light-years, NGC 4565 is relatively close by, and being seen edge-on makes it a particularly useful object for comparative study. As spiral galaxies go, NGC 4565 is classified as a whopper — about a third larger than the Milky Way.