Insectoid Head of Stars


An insect-shaped head emerges from the jumble of stars in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of irregular dwarf galaxy DDO 190.

Explore the crowded jumble of stars. What pictures or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

DDO 190 is called a dwarf irregular galaxy because it lacks clear structure. Unlike a spiral galaxy, like our own Milky Way Galaxy, DDO 190 has no spiral arms. Starting from the outskirts of the small galaxy, older, reddish stars dominate the scene. But as we move inward, younger, blue stars begin to appear. Pockets of glowing gas, areas where new stars are being created, dot the entire galaxy. The most noticeable of these is the butterfly-shaped area at the bottom (what makes the mouth of our head in my imagination).

Scattered throughout the image look for more distant galaxies; galaxies with more regular spiral or elliptical shapes and indistinct shapes.

DDO 190 is within the Messier 94 galaxy group but it is fairly alone in its area of space. While our Milky Way has many companions, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and the relatively nearby Andromeda Galaxy at two million light-years away, DDO 190 is alone. The closest galaxy to this tiny dwarf galaxy is thought to be no more than three million light-years away. DDO 190, discovered by Canadian astronomer Sidney van der Bergh in 1959, is found about 9 million light-years from Earth toward the constellations Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs) and Coma Berenices (Queen Berenice’s Hair).

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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