At first glance, this latest image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is as confusing as it is impressive.
The dense star field that at first glance appears to be a simple cluster, is revealed to be an entire galaxy upon closer inspection.
This galaxy, known as ESO 245-5, is located just 15 million light years from Earth in the constellation Phoenix and is a close neighbor of our Milky Way.
The image demonstrates Hubble’s unparalleled ability to pierce the cosmic veil of dust, gas and light to reveal the secrets of distant celestial objects.
However, ESO 245-5 presents a unique challenge to observers due to its irregular structure, which lacks the clear spiral arms typically associated with galaxies like our Milky Way.
Instead, ESO 245-5 is classified as a type IB(s)m galaxy according to the De Vaucouleurs system, a classification that speaks to its chaotic arrangement of stars and its lack of a defined shape.
The ‘I’ in its designation stands for ‘irregular’, indicating that ESO 245-5 does not conform to the usual elliptical or spiral structures seen in other galaxies.
The ‘B’ means that it has a central bar: a dense line of stars that runs through its core. The ‘(s)’ suggests a hint of a spiral pattern, although not pronounced enough to categorize it as a true spiral galaxy.
Finally, the ‘m’ denotes its similarity to the Magellanic Clouds, which are irregular dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way.
As Hubble continues its mission, it focuses not only on the forest of stars we see, but also on the hidden galaxies that lie between them.