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RE: NGC 3521
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Hubble Shears a "Woolly" Galaxy

Like other flocculent galaxies, NGC 3521 lacks the clearly defined, arcing structure to its spiral arms that shows up in galaxies such as Messier 101, which are called grand design spirals. In flocculent spirals, fluffy patches of stars and dust show up here and there throughout their disks. Sometimes the tufts of stars are arranged in a generally spiraling form, as with NGC 3521, but illuminated star-filled regions can also appear as short or discontinuous spiral arms.
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PGC 33550
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NGC 3521 (also MCG 0-28-30, UGC 6150 and PGC 33550) is a magnitude +11.0 flocculent spiral galaxy located approximately 30 - 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo.

The galaxy was discovered by German-British astronomer William Herschel using a 47.5 cm (18.7 inch) f/13 speculum reflector at Datchet, Berkshire, on the 22nd February 1784.

Right Ascension 11h 05m 48.6s, Declination Dec Dec -00° 02' 09"

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NGC 3521
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This new picture from ESO's Very Large Telescope shows NGC 3521, a spiral galaxy located about 35 million light years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). Spanning about 50 000 light-years, this spectacular object has a bright and compact nucleus, surrounded by richly detailed spiral structure.

eso1129a.jpg

The most distinctive features of the bright galaxy NGC 3521 are its long spiral arms that are dotted with star-forming regions and interspersed with veins of dust. The arms are rather irregular and patchy, making NGC 3521 a typical example of a flocculent spiral galaxy. These galaxies have "fluffy" spiral arms that contrast with the sweeping arms of grand-design spirals such as the famous Whirlpool galaxy or M 51, discovered by Charles Messier.
NGC 3521 is bright and relatively close-by, and can easily be seen with a small telescope such as the one used by Messier to catalogue a series of hazy and comet-like objects in the 1700s. Strangely, the French astronomer seems to have missed this flocculent spiral even though he identified several other galaxies of similar brightness in the constellation of Leo.

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