Hubble Snaps Spiral Galaxy’s Profile – From Hydra Constellation, 80 Million Light-Years Away

Spiral Galaxy NGC 3717

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope sees galaxies of all shapes, sizes, luminosities and orientations in the cosmos. Sometimes, the telescope gazes at a galaxy oriented sideways — as shown here. The spiral galaxy featured in this Hubble image is called NGC 3717, and it is located about 80 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (the Sea Serpent).

Seeing a spiral almost in profile, as Hubble has here, can provide a vivid sense of its three-dimensional shape. Through most of their expanse, spiral galaxies are shaped like a thin pancake. At their cores, though, they have bright, spherical, star-filled bulges that extend above and below this disk, giving these galaxies a shape somewhat like that of a flying saucer when they are seen edge-on.

NGC 3717 is not captured perfectly edge-on in this image; the nearer part of the galaxy is tilted ever so slightly down, and the far side tilted up. This angle affords a view across the disk and the central bulge (of which only one side is visible).

Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, D. Rosario


NGC 3717 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Hydra at an approximate distance of 81.43 million light-years. NGC 3717 was discovered in 1834 by Sir John Herschel.

Hydra is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, measuring 1303 square degrees, and also the longest at over 100 degrees. Its southern end abuts Libra and Centaurus and its northern end borders Cancer. It was included among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy. It is commonly represented as a water snake. It is located in the southern hemisphere.

21 Comments on "Hubble Snaps Spiral Galaxy’s Profile – From Hydra Constellation, 80 Million Light-Years Away"

  1. Is it really 80 million light years, or is that a rough guess? Might it only be 30 million? How about only 30 light years? We get the point. It’s an unimaginable distance away, and probably much further off than we care to apply any funding to, so long as disease and food are issue here, today just miles away.

    • “Is it really 80 million light years, or is that a rough guess? Might it only be 30 million? How about only 30 light years?”

      It’s not a rough guess. It’s accurate to within a few million light years. They can’t measure it to the inch, but you can rest assured it’s about 80 million light years away. Did I miss something about funding? I don’t think anyone is trying to fund anything here, it’s just an informational article.

      • “I don’t think anyone is trying to fund anything here, it’s just an informational article.”

        Really? How did the Hubble get build, who operates it and where does the money to operate and maintain it come from? What vital ‘information’ did you get from the article, that is not theory, that you really needed to know that will improve life here on earth? Pretty pictures are interesting but you can go to an art studio and be impressed a whole lot cheaper.

        • Your ignorant. Im pretty sure when the phone, or tv etc was invented ( the very thing you have and use daily) people also felt “why spend funding on those inventions when we have starving families”. So just because the research don’t benefit you specifically you self centered idiot, don’t mean that it’s a waist of funds. Stop thinking of just yourself here and now in time and be excited we’re as a human race can make these extraordinary discoveries

  2. Regarding the previous comment by Bob Fowler, Michel Mayor, who just got a Nobel Prize for his work on detecting planets in other solar systems, said,

    “These planets are much, much too far away. Even in the very optimistic case of a livable planet that is not too far, say a few dozen light years, which is not a lot, it’s in the neighborhood, the time to go there is considerable,” he added. “We are talking about hundreds of millions of days using the means we have available today. We must take care of our planet, it is very beautiful and still absolutely livable.” The 77-year-old said he felt the need to “kill all the statements that say ‘OK, we will go to a livable planet if one day life is not possible on earth’.”

    In other words we will never get a second chance somewhere else. That tells you what is at stake in the next presidential, senatorial, House and state legislative elections in 2020.

  3. The article reads “About 80 million light years away”, Karen.

  4. david wishengrad | October 12, 2019 at 6:34 pm | Reply

    @Bob Fowler

    Right on! Well, we do have the cure for all needless and preventable suffering and death. It’s called The Most Important Truth in Life and it is “Life is Most Important in Life.

  5. Big bang🙄

  6. Sorry folks- there is no North,South, East, or West in space. NSEW are map orientations relative to your position on Earth.

  7. .
    Have to wonder how many billions of suns and planets located in the billions of galaxies have planets with intelligent life, and what their life forms are like. … Everyone is wondering about everyone else, though we all know we can never communicate. Many intelligent civilizations must have flourished and died out billions of years ago. Galaxies viewed today may no longer exist, though their image streams are still visible because they are so many light years away. The light will continue reaching our galaxy for billions of years. … Mind boggling.

  8. Another thing . . . This business of “approximating” to the decimal point distances measured in “light years” beyond a certain point is pure folly.
    Given the fact that light can be influenced by gravity, black wholes, refraction from cosmic dust, and a host of other elements too numerous to catalog, forces us as human’s to accept the fact that we are somewhat insignificant in the grand scheme of things!

    • Can light be influenced by black halves? ;>)

      Sorry, I just couldn’t resist having fun with your post. All is in jest.

  9. Dustin McGovern | October 13, 2019 at 8:31 am | Reply

    You people need to quit comparing fundinding to organizations and funding to feed the poor, the needy and the less fortunate…they are not related and its not our fault and its not our fight…always a negative comment in that aspect…man…take a sign and go stand on a corner for a day… can’t cause you got a job, you got bills right…oh wait…just make more money so you can afford to help the people and hold a sign…but then that sign will say…today i helped the needy, what did you do???

    • Your post has elements of virtue signaling and shaming in it. If your brother, or even enemy, is starving and you have the means to feed him, aren’t you ,as a fellow human being, to help him?

      How is your comment positive as you attempt to point out negative comments from other people?

      What ‘sign’ did you just hold up in your post?

      • Actually, no. I’m not obligated to help any person. It is my moral option to make on whom I or what I want to help. You truly don’t seem to get that advancements brought on by having space exploration helps lift-all-boats in life. Increasing caloric intake for people thereby allowing for accelerated growth in populations does nothing to help anyone in the long run.

  10. “Hubble Snaps Spiral Galaxy’s Profile – From Hydra Constellation, 80 Million Light-Years Away”

    So who knew that the Hubble is yow 80 million Light-Years away in the Hydra Constellation? Are all the celestial bodies that make up the Hydra Constellation 80 Million Light-Years away?

    Oh how I like to see non-scientific people write about theoretical astrophysical things that are all unproven theories and try to sell those theories as established fact.

  11. Remember the US political choices will be a businessman that is looking out for himself and his generations to come, so in essence he will live comfortably forever and by extension his own country or communists who need misery in order to be of any helpful use to anybody.

    Karl Marx was a bum who never had a job and sponged off a wealthy capitalist childhoods friend and father to stay alive and stuff food down his rotten pie-hole.

    That’s the democrat party today.

    Choose as you will get the government you deserve.

  12. I guess Freeland_Dave proves that living in a mobile home on blocks makes one depressed.

  13. So sensitive…..

  14. All I know is it is pretty darn amazing.

  15. Sanjay Khannah | October 14, 2019 at 1:02 am | Reply

    It is amazing to note that the spiral galaxy was snapped in a horizontal allignment.Hubble has been proving a marvelous investment, ever unearthing rare and unknown details about the Universe, vastly enriching our knowledge and understanding.

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