NGC 4395

NGC 4395 is a spiral galaxy with a very low surface brightness. Unlike most galaxies the center of the galaxy is small and faint. Nearly all galaxies are known to contain a supermassive black hole in the center. NGC 4395 has one of the smallest known such black holes. It is six times smaller than the one at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is located about 14 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Canes Venatici.

While most galaxies are disk-shaped with a bulge in the middle, NGC 4395 is essentially flat; it has no central bulge. And this unusual shape may be linked to the size of the black hole: the current theory holds that black holes may literally be consuming active galactic nuclei, so the black hole might have already “eaten” all the stars in the center of the galaxy. This would explain why the black hole doesn’t seem to be growing as well as the galaxy’s odd shape.

I took this image over almost 25 years (53 images of 20 minutes each and 15 images of each color of 10 minutes each). In spite of such a long exposure, the picture is rather dull and noisy. That is happening primarily because of the nature of this galaxy, which is a very low-brightness galaxy.

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