Hubble recently captured an image of a galaxy in transition, straddling the line between two identities.
NGC 4388 is one of 1,300 galaxies making up the Virgo Cluster. The gravitationally-bound galaxies are found within the Virgo Constellation.
As revealed by the latest Hubble image, NGC 4388 boasts features of both an elliptical and spiral galaxy. The galaxy is classified as a spiral galaxy, but its smooth, featureless outskirts resemble an elliptical galaxy.
Its spiral classification is inspired by the galaxy’s two symmetric spiral arms, snaking out from its orb-like center. Hidden within the dark clouds of dust outlining the arms are beams of bright blue radiation, a sign young stars are being born.
Scientists believe the dual identities of NGC 4388 are a result of its position within a crowded cluster where galaxies are colliding, merging and influencing one another in a variety of ways.