Spiral galaxies are pancake-shaped collections stars and vast clouds of gas and dust. This video illustrates how their observed shapes can differ change depending on the angle at which they are observed. This video pictures models of the spiral galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right) in three dimensions and rotates them to show how they might look if viewed from other perspectives. The models are based on observations by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, as well as on the statistical properties of galaxies. Because we see NGC 4302 nearly edge on, and its structure is not well-defined—its model is based upon observations of the spiral galaxy Messier 51.
Video Credits: NASA / ESA / STScI