The galaxy NGC 4380 looks like a special effect straight out of a science fiction or fantasy film in this Hubble Picture of the Week, swirling like a gaping portal to another dimension.
In the grand scheme of things, though, the galaxy is actually quite ordinary. Spiral galaxies like NGC 4380 are one of the most common types of galaxy in the Universe. These colossal collections of stars, often numbering in the hundreds of billions, are shaped like a flat disc, sometimes with a rounded bulge in the center. Graceful spiral arms outlined by dark lanes of dust wind around the bulging core, which glows brightly and has the highest concentration of stars in the galaxy.
Imaging was gathered using the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This camera, which replaced Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) in May 2009, provides Hubble with powerful imaging capabilities including broad wavelength coverage, wide field of view, and high sensitivity. For this image of NGC 4380, filters of the following wavelengths were used: 475 nm, 814 nm, and 1.6 μm.
Note: NGC 4380 is the designation of this galaxy in the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, which is often called more simply New General Catalogue or NGC. It is one of the largest comprehensive catalogs, currently containing 7,840 objects including galaxies, star clusters, emission nebulae, and absorption nebulae.