Behold: Hoag’s Object – an unusual extragalactic thingy we still don’t know a great deal about despite it  being discovered by astronomer Arthur Hoag in 1950. What is it? One galaxy? Two? The Eye of Sauron? The Doughnut Of Doom?  To wit:

On the outside is a ring dominated by bright blue stars, while near the center lies a ball of much redder stars that are likely much older. Between the two is a gap that appears almost completely dark. How Hoag’s Object formed, including its nearly perfectly round ring of stars and gas, remains unknown. Genesis hypotheses include a galaxy collision billions of years ago and the gravitational effect of a central bar that has since vanished. The featured photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and recently reprocessed using an artificially intelligent de-noising algorithm. Observations in radio waves indicate that Hoag’s Object has not accreted a smaller galaxy in the past billion years. Hoag’s Object spans about 100,000 light years and lies about 600 million light years away toward the constellation of the Snake (Serpens). Many galaxies far in the distance are visible toward the right, while coincidentally, visible in the gap at about seven o’clock, is another but more distant ring galaxy.

(Image: NASA, ESA, Hubble; Processing: Benoit Blanco)

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