Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
A couple things strike me as odd upon initial observations of this galaxy; its nearly circular shape and its long, thin spiral arms. It’s just not something you expect to see from your average spiral galaxy. Well, upon further investigation, astronomers discovered that this 111 million light year distant galaxy has yet another oddity that only shows up after you keep your eye on it for a bit. It spins backward.
That’s right; instead of the usual spin where the spiral arms trail behind the galaxy, NGC 4622’s arms actually lead the spin so as we see it, this galaxy has a clockwise rotation. Even in simulations, this galaxy’s spin was shown to be counter-clockwise which wasn’t found to be the case in reality. At this time, the leading theory is that it had interacted with some other galaxy long ago and likely consumed it, leaving its spin direction and shape forever changed.
NAME: NGC 4622.
WHAT IS IT?: Spiral Galaxy.
HOW BIG IS IT?: About 50,000 light years in diameter.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Roughly 111 million light years away.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: A very dim 12.6.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Centaurus.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): R.A. 12h 42m 37.7s / Dec. -40° 44′ 35″.
NASA Hubblesite page for this image: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/galaxy/pr2002003a/npp/all/
NASA Hubblesite News Center page for this image: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2002/03/image/a/
Hubble Heritage page for this image: http://heritage.stsci.edu/2002/03/