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NGC 5170

A spiral galaxy in the southern regions of Virgo, near the location in the sky where that constellation meets the trailing tail of Hydra. NGC 5170 is not part of the dense and populous Virgo Cluster of galaxies in the northern part of Virgo: at a distance approaching 100 million light years from the Milky Way, it is nearly twice as far away as that galaxy cluster, and receding at a speed of some 1,500 kilometres per second.

NGC 5170 is aligned to the Milky Way so that it appears almost exactly edge-on in the skies of Earth. This means that, in lower resolution images, it appears a little more than a thin line with tapered ends. Seen in more detail, though, the structure of the galaxy is revealed. From a brilliant and dense core, a thin disc of stars and dust stretches out to form a spiral structure nearly 100,000 light years from side to side.