Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix’

A Squid in the Darkness

NASA/ESA Hubble

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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P-Shapes in Phoenix

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and M. Stiavelli (STScI)

An older, redder elliptical galaxy and a gas-rich, irregular, blue galaxy merge to form a rough “P”-shape in this image of NGC 454 from NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope.

Explore the image. Knots of young star clusters shine in the galaxy on the right. Three bright blue clumps of stars to the center-right of the image may be part of the blue galaxy. Although astronomers believe that the galaxies that make up NGC 454 are in the early stages of merging, we can already see warping and bending of the galaxies. We can also see some far-off background galaxies in the image. Look for faint dust lanes in the reddish, elliptical galaxy. As the galaxies interact more and gas and dust become more concentrated where the galaxies meet, astronomers expect a burst of new star birth.

NGC 454 is found about 164 million light-years away toward the small southern constellation of Phoenix.

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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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