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In Brief

NASA’s Spitzer Finds Galaxy with Split Personality

25 April 2012

Sombrero galaxy in infrared (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

New observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is a round elliptical galaxy with a thin disk embedded inside.

While some galaxies are rotund and others are slender disks like our spiral Milky Way, new observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope show that the Sombrero galaxy is both. The galaxy, which is a round elliptical galaxy with a thin disk embedded inside, is one of the first known to exhibit characteristics of the two different types. The findings will lead to a better understanding of galaxy evolution, a topic still poorly understood.

“The Sombrero is more complex than previously thought,” said Dimitri Gadotti of the European Southern Observatory in Chile, who was lead author of a new paper on the findings appearing in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “The only way to understand all we know about this galaxy is to think of it as two galaxies, one inside the other.”

For more on the new findings about the Sombrero galaxy, see the NASA press release.