Pieces of Fuzz

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

With loose spiral arms, NGC 1345 resembles a piece of starry fuzz in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the ragged spiral arms of NGC 1345. Astronomer John Herschel discovered NGC 1345 in 1835. He actually describes it as a small and very faint circular fuzz. NGC 1345 has an elongated bar starting at the nucleus and extending out. Spiral arms extend from the end of this bar. Astronomers call this type of galaxy a barred spiral. Our Milky Way Galaxy is likely a barred spiral galaxy. The center of the galaxy is dominated by older, yellow stars. Near the edge of the galaxy, look for young blue stars and star clusters scattered along the spiral arms.

Take a closer look and smaller pieces of fuzz dominate this image. Many reddish background galaxies with various shapes dot the celestial landscape. You can find spiral galaxies, edge-on galaxies, face-on galaxies, irregular galaxies and galaxies that are just faint smudges. Some shine through the glow of NGC 1345. And each of them contain billions of stars. NGC 1345 galaxy is part of a group of galaxies known as the Eridanus Galaxy Cluster. The group of about 70 galaxies lies 85 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Eridanus, the River. That’s not so far away from the Milky Way Galaxy in astronomical terms. Near this location in the sky lies another great cluster of galaxies known as the Fornax Galaxy Cluster. Together, these two clusters form a galactic supercluster called the Fornax Supercluster or the Southern Supercluster.

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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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