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What is this? – Hubble telescope spots something that defies classification

Sometimes there are celestial bodies that defy simple classification. This is one such object.

https://www.space.com/hubble-telescope-mystery-object-lyra-Z-229-15?utm_term=7904C1FE-85FF-452B-BF86-43B3897E4859&utm_campaign=58E4DE65-C57F-4CD3-9A5A-609994E2C5A9&utm_medium=email&utm_content=66E4F6B3-4D5D-46E9-B641-A932D3A1E043&utm_source=SmartBrief
Z 229-15 — imaged here in beautiful detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope — a celestial object that lies about 390 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Image credit - ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Barth, R. Mushotzky
Z 229-15 — imaged here in beautiful detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope — a celestial object that lies about 390 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. Image credit - ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Barth, R. Mushotzky

Sometimes there are celestial bodies that defy simple classification. This is one such object.

The newly released image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows Z 229-15, which, at first glance, simply appears to be a spiral galaxy, given its two spiraling arms of stars emanating from a bright core. But it’s far, far more than that.

We have to remember that a lot of science is all about classification, and there are times when scientists encounter things that push the limits of those categories, displaying multiple distinctive characteristics at once. 

Such is the case with Z 229-15, a luminous object located about 390 million light years from Earth that is a bit too complex to be placed in a single box. Instead of fitting neatly into one classification, it requires three of them. reports IFLScience.

The three categories that describe this particular object do overlap, with Z 229-15 sometimes appearing as an active galactic nucleus (AGN). At other times, it appears as a quasar.

Quasars are a subclass of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), extremely luminous galactic cores where gas and dust falling into a supermassive black hole emit electromagnetic radiation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

To confound scientists even further, there are times when it resembles a Seyfert galaxy. Seyfert galaxies are any of a class of galaxies known to have active nuclei. Such galaxies were named for the American astronomer Carl K. Seyfert, who first called attention to them in 1944.

The European Space Agency does a good job of demystifying exactly what Z 229-15 actually is. According to a statement released by the European Space Agency (ESA). “Z 229-15 is one of those interesting celestial objects that, should you choose to research it, you will find defined as several different things.”

So after going through the three different classifications in the statement, the ESA concluded that “technically, Z 229-15 is a Seyfert galaxy with a quasar-subclass AGN.” As ESA, which co-manages Hubble with NASA, calls it, Z 229-15 is “Everything, in one place, all at once” — a clever nod to this year’s Academy Awards Best Picture winner “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.”

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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