NASA on Christmas Eve released a photo taken by the Hubble Telescope of a galaxy IC 335, about 60 million light-years from earth, www.inquisitr.com reported. The galaxy is one in a group with three others located in what is called the Fornax Galaxy Cluster.
Galaxy IC 335 can only be seen on its edge, from earth, which made the astronomers' job of classifying the galaxy difficult. Astronomers have not been able to spot spiral arms or bars across its centre. What they do know is that IC 335 is 45,000 light-years across and is somewhere between a spiral and an elliptical galaxy.
''[Lenticular galaxies] have a thin stellar disk and a bulge, like spiral galaxies, but in contrast to typical spiral galaxies they have used up most of the interstellar medium. Only a few new stars can be created out of the material that is left and the star formation rate is very low. Hence, the population of stars in S0 galaxies consist mainly of aging stars, very similar to the star population in elliptical galaxies.''
IC 335, which is considered an aging or fading galaxy, either never had an interaction with another galaxy or only experienced a single merger between two spiral galaxies. This was opposed to spiral and elliptical types, which usually interacted violently with their cosmic neighbours.
Dr Jay M Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and co-author of The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium, told Huffington Post in an email: ''It clearly isn't an elliptical galaxy since it looks flat, but it doesn't seem to have matter between the stars…so the scientists involved classify it as an intermediate type between spirals and ellipticals,'' techaeris.com reported.
According to NASA, IC-335 was mainly made up of aging stars but one could not help wonder whether there might be civilisation somewhere out there.