Against the dappled backdrop of more distant galaxies, the Little Sombrero has a bright central bulge, a thin dust-filled disk and a glowing halo of gas and stars stretching out into space. It is about 40 million light-years from Earth, 80,000 light-years wide and billions of years old.
The dusty spiral galaxy is known to be named after the grander-looking Sombrero galaxy, which resembles a broad-brimmed Mexican hat. From its edge, the Sombrero Galaxy lies just 28 million light-years away and appears larger than the Little Sombrero Galaxy. Actually, they’re almost the same size, but appear larger because the Sombrero Galaxy is closer.
This image of the Little Sombrero galaxy is a combination of visible-light and infrared observations taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Observations in 2006. The observations are meant to help astronomers study the galaxy’s stellar population and help reveal the evolution of this galaxy and others like it.