Follow the LEDA: Spectacular Luminescent Image From Hubble Space Telescope

This Hubble Space Telescope image features multiple galaxies, perhaps most noticeably LEDA 58109, the lone galaxy in the upper right. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, W. Keel

This spectacular luminescent image from the Hubble Space Telescope features multiple galaxies, perhaps most noticeably LEDA 58109, the lone galaxy in the upper right. LEDA 58109 is flanked by two further galactic objects to its lower left — an active galactic nucleus (AGN) called SDSS J162558.14+435746.4 that partially obscures the galaxy SDSS J162557.25+435743.5, which appears to poke out to the right behind the AGN.

Sometimes galaxy classification is presented as something of a dichotomy: spiral and elliptical. However, the diverse variety of galaxies in this image alone highlights the complex web of galaxy classifications that exist. This includes galaxies that house extremely luminous AGNs at their cores and galaxies whose odd shapes defy the classification of either spiral or elliptical.

This collection of galaxies also illustrates the broad range of names that galaxies have: some that are relatively short, like LEDA 58109, and some that are very long and challenging to remember, such as the two galaxies to the left. This is because there are multiple cataloging systems that chart the celestial objects in the night sky.

No one catalog is complete, and they cover overlapping regions of the sky, so many galaxies belong to several different catalogs. For example, the galaxy on the right is LEDA 58109 in the LEDA galaxy database, but is also known as MCG+07-34-030 in the MCG galaxy catalog, and SDSS J162551.50+435747.5 in the SDSS galaxy catalog — the same catalog that also lists the two galaxies to the left.

AstronomyEuropean Space AgencyHubble Space TelescopeNASA