Insectoid Head of Stars

NASA/ESA Hub­ble

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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