Galaxy on Edge

Image credit & copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Here’s a beautiful edge-on view of a spiral galaxy cataloged at NGC 5866. Located 45 million light years away in the constellation Draco, this galaxy presents us with a wonderful opportunity to view a galaxy from not just the side, but almost perfectly edge-on. That means we can study the width and density of the band of star forming material that runs the length of the galaxy in detail.  Also, imagine for a moment that instead of seeing this galaxy from 45 million light years distant, we were in that galaxy only about 25,000 light years from its core.  Well, we’d be seeing this galaxy as we do our home star city, the Milky Way.

Name: New General Catalog 5866, NGC 5866.

What is it?: Edge-on spiral galaxy.

How far away is it?: Roughly 45 million light years.

How big is it?: Roughly 60,000 light years in diameter.

Apparent magnitude: 10.7 or +10.7.

Where is it (General)?: Constellation Draco “The Dragon.”

Where is it (Exact RA/Dec J2000)?: RA 15h 06m 29.5s / Dec +55° 45′ 48″.

ESA Space Telescope page for this image:

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2 Responses to Galaxy on Edge

  1. Hi Dan. Thanks so much for this post and for all of your posts! I love the info, images and insights that you bring us. This post of NGC 5866 made me gasp. It’s so beautiful and definitely not something I’ve seen before.

    I have a question arising from your notes posted with the photo. You said that we should imagine that “we were in that galaxy only about 45,000 light years from its core”. Is that figure a proportional distance compared to where we sit in the Milky Way? I’ve read that the Earth is circa 27,000 light years from the galactic core. I may have missed what you were trying to say and definitely am not claiming that you’re wrong. Getting to the facts so that I can pass them on to others is one of my passions.


    Doug Ingram

    • AstroDan77 says:

      Hey Doug great to hear from you and my apologies on the delayed response. Nope, you’re absolutely correct and thanks! The preceeding 45 million must have kept the 45 on my mind as it was supposed to be 25 but I believe estimates range from 25-30. I’m actually pretty taken aback that someone hasn’t brought that up on IG yet. Hope you have a great weekend.


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