Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Ok, so it may be identified and it’s not flying but this nearly edge on barred spiral galaxy as seen through a telescope resembles the classic sci-fi UFO shape. It was graced with that name by the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium & Observatory (AMPO) in Cocoa, FL. Located roughly 20 million light years away in the constellation Lynx (Which by the way, was named not because it looked like a cat but because you need to have cat-like eyes to see the dim stars in it.) this beautiful structure gives us the opportunity to see key features that are difficult to resolve in a face-on or nearly face-on galaxy.
This angle gives us an opportunity to study the galactic bulge above and below the plane as well as the more than 300 globular star clusters that reside there. That’s about twice as many as are found in the Milky Way. You can also get a feel for just how thin the plane of the galaxy itself is; relatively paper thin in comparison to its massive width.
The classic galactic features are apparent here as well. Thick dust lanes mix throughout the blue spiral arms of relatively young stars. The nearer the core you get, the older and yellower the stars become where at its center a supermassive black hole resides.
NAME: NGC 2683, The UFO Galaxy.
WHAT IS IT?: Barred spiral galaxy.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Similar in size to the Milky Way or about 100,000 light years in diameter.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Roughly 20 million light years away.
DISCOVERY?: February 5, 1788 by William Herschel.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: A pretty dim 10.6.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Lynx.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 08h 52m 41.3s / DEC+33° 25′ 19″.
NASA page for this image: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/ufo-galaxy.html
ESA Space Telescope page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1213a/