Hubble gives us this spectacular view of NGC 6861. I always thought this was an elliptical galaxy. Not so, it’s a hybrid of sorts between an elliptical and a spiral called a lenticular.
Not viewable here at 45 deg North, it is a southern object. Too bad, it’s a beauty. I believe this galaxy is in the order of 31 Mpc distant or a little over 101 million light-years and still it is a magnitude 11 to 12. Distances are very tough to determine so there is some room for error.
Note: My computer is failing. Should I disappear for a short time you will know why. I think I can keep it going long enough to get a replacement – still one never knows.
The subject of this image is NGC 6861, a galaxy discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop. Almost two centuries later we now know that NGC 6861 is the second brightest member of a group of at least a dozen galaxies called the Telescopium Group — otherwise known as the NGC 6868 Group — in the small constellation of Telescopium (The Telescope).
Astronomers have studied galactic evolution for decades, gradually improving our knowledge of how galaxies have changed over cosmic history. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has played a big part in this, allowing astronomers to see further into the distance, and hence further back in time, than any telescope before it – capturing light that has taken billions of years to reach us.
Looking further into the very distant past to observe younger and younger galaxies is very valuable, but it is not without its problems for astronomers. All newly-born galaxies lie very far away from us and appear very small and faint in the images. On the contrary, all the galaxies near to us appear to be old ones.
DDO 68, captured here by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, was one of the best candidates so far discovered for a newly-formed galaxy in our cosmic neighbourhood. The galaxy lies around 39 million light-years away from us; although this distance may seem huge, it is in fact roughly 50 times closer than the usual distances to such galaxies, which are on the order of several billions of light years.
Serpens is one of the constellations we don’t hear much about but is probably familiar if you done much sky watching.
The alpha star has the interesting name of Unukalhai and is located at RA: 15h 45m 00.274s Dec: +06°22’54.854″ or Alt: +50°46’49.676″ Azim: 158°02’58.733″ if you have a compass. I put small finders chart here with the constellation outlined in blue. The tail points almost due south (time is about midnight local).
Within the swaddling dust of the Serpens Cloud Core, astronomers are studying one of the youngest collections of stars ever seen in our galaxy. This infrared image combines data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope with shorter-wavelength observations from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), letting us peer into the clouds of dust wrapped around this stellar nursery.
At a distance of around 750 light-years, these young stars reside within the confines of the constellation Serpens, or the “Serpent.” This collection contains stars of only relatively low to moderate mass, lacking any of the massive and incredibly bright stars found in larger star-forming regions like the Orion nebula. Our sun is a star of moderate mass. Whether it formed in a low-mass stellar region like Serpens, or a high-mass stellar region like Orion, is an ongoing mystery. Continue reading →
Hubble and Herschel combine to study the galaxy known as S0901 seen here as a arc. The arc is a result of huge gravitational forces from a galaxy or galaxies between us and the galactic arc, gravity so strong light from the more distant S0901 is actually magnified and bent into an arc.
Fascinating stuff! I do wonder if we will ever be able to sort of reverse engineer the arc into some semblance of the actual hidden galaxy.
The young galaxy SDSS090122.37+181432.3, also known as S0901, is seen here as the bright arc to the left of the central bright galaxy. The distorted view of S0901 is caused by gravitational lensing, resulting from one or more galaxies that lie between the observer and S0901. Although one effect of lensing is to distort the image, another effect is to magnify the light of the lensed object. This effect was used to enable scientists to study S0901 with Herschel’s Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI).
Centaurus A is always a treat to see in a good image. This Chandra image gives us an especially good look at those huge jets of material being rejected by the supermassive blackhole at the center of the galaxy.
Just weeks after NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory began operations in 1999, the telescope pointed at Centaurus A (Cen A, for short). This galaxy, at a distance of about 12 million light years from Earth, contains a gargantuan jet blasting away from a central supermassive black hole.
Since then, Chandra has returned its attention to this galaxy, each time gathering more data. And, like an old family photo that has been digitally restored, new processing techniques are providing astronomers with a new look at this old galactic friend.
Here’s a recent offering from Hubble showing NGC 660, which is described in the caption below from the ESA Week in Pictures.
NGC 660 is a polar ring galaxy, sadly the orientation doesn’t allow us to see that too well. APOD showed the excellent example years ago of NGC 4650A.
This new Hubble image shows a peculiar galaxy known as NGC 660, located around 45 million light-years away from us.
NGC 660 is classified as a “polar ring galaxy,” meaning that it has a belt of gas and stars around its center that it ripped from a near neighbor during a clash about one billion years ago.The first polar ring galaxy was observed in 1978 and only around a dozen more have been discovered since then, making them something of a cosmic rarity.
The environment around the galaxy M60 contains a very dense galaxy called M60-UCD1.
At first I was kind of surprising this galaxy was even noticed being so close to M60. Turns out a closer look with Chandra shows it to be very distinctive.
The densest galaxy in the nearby universe may have been found. The galaxy, known as M60-UCD1, is located near a massive elliptical galaxy NGC 4649, also called M60, about 54 million light-years from Earth.
This composite image shows M60 and the region around it, where data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are pink and data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are red, green and blue. The Chandra image shows hot gas and double stars containing black holes and neutron stars, and the Hubble image reveals stars in M60 and neighboring galaxies including M60-UCD1. The arrow points to M60-UCD1.
The press release from JPL (click to get larger versions of the image)
The Sculptor galaxy is seen in a new light, in this composite image from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and the European Southern Observatory in Chile. Visible data from the European Space Observatory show the backbone of the galaxy made up of stars, while NuSTAR data, which appear as colored blobs, show high-energy X-rays. The NuSTAR observations are the sharpest ever taken of this galaxy in high-energy X-rays.
The findings, when combined with those from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, suggest that the supermassive black hole at the center of the Sculptor galaxy, also known as NGC 253, has dozed off, or gone inactive, sometime in the past decade. Future observations from both telescopes should help address this mystery.