This is a disk galaxy seen almost perfectly edge on. The image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows us just how thin disk galaxies can be. NGC 4762, a galaxy in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, is so thin that it is actually difficult to determine what type of disk galaxy it is. Its lack of a visible dust lane suggests that it is probably a low-dust lenticular galaxy, but it is still possible that a view from another angle would reveal spiral structure. The galaxy spans about 100,000 light years from end to end, with its center showing a slight bulge of stars. Most galaxies don’t appear this thin because our point of view from Earth doesn’t line up well enough with the planes of their thin galactic disks. However, galaxies this thin are common. Indeed, our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have roughly the same overall dimensions as NGC 4762.
Image Credit: NASA / ESA