Posts Tagged ‘irregular galaxy’

A Squid in the Darkness


A blue and gold squid-shaped galaxy glitters with other galaxies in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

potw1347aStarryCritters is all about seeing patterns in the stars. ESO 149-3 is an irregular galaxy that appears to be shaped like a squid with a dim smattering of stars hanging below. Irregular galaxies lack the shape and structure of more well known spiral and elliptical galaxies. They also tend to be much smaller. Nearly one-quarter of all galaxies are irregular galaxies. The Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, companions to our Milky Way Galaxy, are irregular galaxies. Blue stars in ESO 149-3 are hot young stars probably born as the galaxy interacted with another. Gold stars are older stars like our Sun.

ESO 149-3 is found fairly nearby at about 20 million light-years from Earth toward the southern constellation Phoenix. Zoom deep into the image and spy more distant galaxies of all shapes scattered throughout the image.

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Spiral in a glittering galaxy


A spiral galaxy peeps through a sparkling array of stars in this image of ESO 318-13 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the dazzling spray of stars and far-off galaxies; take in the objects near and far. What shapes or stories do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Galaxies after all are mostly empty space. Light-years separate stars and if dark dust clouds don’t obscure the view, the galaxies become mostly transparent allowing distant background galaxies to shine through.

Pan to the center of the galaxy and you’ll find a bright star right in the middle. The stars of ESO 318-13 are brilliant in this image but they don’t compare to to the bright star that is actually much closer to Earth within our Milky Way Galaxy. Several bright stars are also members of our galaxy.

ESO 318-13 is an irregular dwarf galaxy millions of light-years from Earth. In this image, we see the galaxy along its edge. Although the stars are brilliant and crystal clear, the beautiful image doesn’t show us much of the galaxy’s structure. We do find many distant galaxies with distinct spiral and elliptical shapes scattered throughout the image.

ESO 318-13 is located toward the southern constellation Antlia, the Pump. French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille created this constellation in 1756 to commemorate the air pump. The constellation faces away from the Milky Way Galaxy and toward deeps space and has no bright stars.

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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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Salt and Pepper

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Salt and pepper hang in amorphous star clouds in this image of irregular galaxy DDO 82 from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the partial spiral structure of DDO 82, also known as UGC 5692. What stories or shapes do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.

Astronomers classify this dwarf galaxy as an Sm galaxy or Magellanic spiral galaxy. This galaxy is similar to the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby dwarf galaxy to the Milky Way Galaxy. Both have one spiral arm. And unlike their larger cousins with billions of stars, dwarf galaxies have only a few million stars.

Zoom in close to the blue stars at the center of the image. These blue patches are new stars or star clusters. Red and yellow stars along the outside are older stars. Peppered throughout the background look for faraway galaxies. The bright stars in the image are nearby stars that are part of the Milky Way Galaxy. The green halo near the star in the center is light playing in the optics of the Hubble Space Telescope.

DDO 82 gets its name from its entry number in the David Dunlap Observatory Catalog. Canadian astronomer Sidney van den Bergh compiled this list of dwarf galaxies in 1959. The galaxy is part of the M81 Group, about three dozen galaxies just 13 million light-years toward the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

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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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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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