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The Question

(Submitted April 22, 1998)

Do you think you could send me any links to good web-pages that have information on Lenticular Galaxies or do you know where I can get any good information on them at?

The Answer

I am not an expert on galaxy morphology, but here is my understanding.

Lenticular galaxies are best described as 'spiral galaxies without the spiral'. The spirals highlight the places where bright new stars are forming, but lenticular galaxies (like ellipticals) have lost the interstellar gas which forms new stars. Lenticular galaxies are most often found in dense clusters of galaxies, so the most likely conclusion is that collisions with other galaxies or intergalactic gas clouds have stripped the gas out of these galaxies.

Hubble classified the shapes of galaxies in a 'tuning fork' diagram, with spirals and barred spirals as the tines of the fork, and elliptical galaxies as the handle. Lenticular galaxies on this classification system are where the tines meet the handle. Go to http://www.seds.org/messier/lenticul.html to see some images of lenticular galaxies.

A search engine may turn up over references to lenticular galaxies. Since lenticular galaxies are not a topic popular on the 'fringe', most of these pages should be reasonably accurate. As always, consider the source of the information before deciding how much to trust its validity.

David Palmer
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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