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In celebration of the 27th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on April 24, 1990, astronomers used the legendary telescope to take a portrait of a stunning pair of spiral galaxies. These island cities of stars give astronomers an idea of what our own galaxy would look like to an outside observer.
The edge-on galaxy is called NGC 4302, and the tilted galaxy is NGC 4298. Although the pinwheel galaxies look quite different because they are angled at different positions on the sky, they are actually very similar in terms of their structure and contents. In NGC 4298, the telltale, pinwheel-like structure is visible, but it’s not as prominent as in some other spiral galaxies. In the edge-on NGC 4302, dust in the disk is silhouetted against rich lanes of stars.
Both galaxies were discovered in 1784 by astronomer William Herschel. They are about 55 million light-years away and reside in the constellation Coma Berenices. Learn more at HubbleSite's NewsCenter.