Posts Tagged ‘Camelopardalis’

A Confused Galactic V


Check out a galactic-sized “flying V in this image of interacting galaxies IC 2184 from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the two nearly edge-on galaxies as they begin their billion-year-long dance. What shapes or stories do you see in the image? Leave a note in the comments below.

IC 2184 is really two galaxies. Even though space is huge, galaxies graze each other all the time. Gravity is strong with both galaxies. As the galaxies interact, stars, gas and dust are flung out into space forming long tidal tails. Look close for two faint tails. Usually these tails arc far into space but they look straight in this image because we are looking at them from the edge. The tails are arcing toward or away from us.

Also look for bright, fireworks regions. Gravity not only flings stars outward but also it can smash gas and dust. The bright blue and pink bursts are hot regions where new stars are forming, similar to regions in our galaxy such as the Orion Nebula or the Carina Nebula. These areas glow brightly enough that they show up as bright blobs of light in large telescopes.

IC 2184 is found about 160 million light-years from Earth toward the faint constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe.

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Galaxies in the mist


Faraway galaxies glow through a starry mist as it angles across this image of NGC 2366 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the bright star-forming nebula, blue dots and galaxies in this image. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

NGC 2366 is a small dwarf galaxy hanging out only about 10 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe. The closest large galaxy is the Andromeda Galaxy, two million light-years away. NGC 2366 is about the same size as two closer and more familiar dwarf galaxies to the Milky Way; the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. They lie just 170,000 light-years from Earth. But like the Magellanic Clouds, NGC 2366 lacks the internal structure of galaxies like our home, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda Galaxy.

NGC 2366 is still producing stars. As you pan across the image look for bright blue dots throughout the image. These are giant blue stars many times larger than our Sun. Intense ultraviolet radiation from these new stars excites atoms in the nebulae scattered throughout the image causing them to glow. Zoom into the blue nebula in the upper right hand corner. This star-forming nebula is NGC 2363. This nebula is actually has more of a pinkish tint but is blue because of the green and infrared filters used for this image by the Hubble.

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Warped Arms and Scorpion Tails

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Like a scorpion with its tail stretched and twisted high above its head, galaxy NGC 2146 glitters in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the red nebulae and wide-flung stars in the long tail in this image? What stories or shapes do you see? Leave a note below.

When galaxies interact, the colossal forces of gravity stretch and twist the gas and dust of the galactic arms. Stars are shifted in their orbits and whole strands of them can be flung into deep space. What we end up with is a distorted and warped galaxy. Astronomers classify NGC 2146 as a barred spiral because of its shape. The two most striking features are the long tail high overhead and the dark dust of a spiral arm that pulls in front of the galaxy.

NGC 2146 is also known as a starburst galaxy. As galaxies interact, gas and dust are smashed, pushed and pulled by the galactic forces. This compression of hydrogen-rich nebulae triggers star birth.

NGC 2146, discovered by German astronomer Friedrich Winnecke in 1876, is slightly smaller than our own Milky Way Galaxy. It measures about 80,000 light-years across. It lies about 70 million light-years away from Earth toward the faint constellation of Camelopardalis, the Giraffe.

A Slice of Lemon

Credit: Howard Bond (Space Telescope Science Institute), Robin Ciardullo (Pennsylvania State University) and NASA

IC 3568 glows like a lemony plasma globe in this image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the image of the tiny planetary nebula, also called the Lemon Slice Nebula. IC 3568 is also one of the simplest planetary nebulae astronomers have observed. Faint structure, like the inside of a lemon, can be seen in the bright central bubble surrounding the central star. A faint halo extends beyond the bright center in this classic “round” planetary nebula.

IC 3568 is a young planetary nebula having has a diameter of only about 0.4 light-years or about 800 times the size of our solar system. This means it would take a beam of light less than a six months to cross the nebula.

Plan­e­tary neb­ula have noth­ing to do with plan­ets except that to early astronomers these round, bub­bles of gas looked like the plan­ets Uranus and Nep­tune. Plan­e­tary neb­ula are the last stage of life for stars like our Sun. After bil­lions of years, stars reach a point where there is lit­tle hydro­gen gas to burn. To help con­vert their stel­lar fur­naces to burn other ele­ments such as helium, the star bal­loons in size to become a red giant. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, the star col­lapses back on itself. This increases the tem­per­a­ture at its core and most of the stars mate­r­ial is cat­a­pulted into space, form­ing a bub­ble around the star. This doesnt hap­pen all at once but in stages.

IC 3568 lies about 9,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe. Camelopardalis is the Latin word for giraffe; a camel-like animal, with a long neck and spots of a leopard. When first seen, camels amazed crowds throughout the Roman world. Camelopardalis is a faint constellation probably created by Petrus Plancius for his star atlas. The Greeks saw no constellations in the part of the sky near the North Star and considered it to be empty.


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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