A Galactic Merger

One from manyThis is an odd galaxy known as NGC 1487. It’s not a single galaxy but two or more galaxies in the act of merging. Each of the old galaxies has lost almost all traces of its original appearance as the stars and gas have been thrown about by gravitational interactions. Unless one of the merging galaxies is very much bigger than the other(s), galaxies are always disrupted by the violence of the merging process, so it’s essentially impossible to determine exactly what the original galaxies looked like or how many of them there were. In this case, it may be that this NGC 1487 is the merger of several dwarf galaxies that were previously part of a small group.

Although older yellow and red stars can be seen in the outer regions of the new galaxy, its general appearance is dominated by bright blue stars that probably formed in a burst of star formation triggered by the merger.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

NGC 986

An Often Ignored BeautyThis is the spiral galaxy NGC 986 in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace). The galaxy is about 56 million light-years away, and we see it almost perfectly face-on from Earth, allowing us to see the two main spiral arms and also a central bar-shaped structure, composed of stars and dust, which makes it a barred spiral galaxy.

Image Credit: ESO

Pictor A

Pictor AThis image combines X-ray and radio astronomy data. The Chandra X-ray image of Pictor A shows a spectacular jet that emanates from a black hole in the center of the galaxy and extends across 300,000 years toward a brilliant hotspot and a counter jet pointing in the opposite direction.

Image Credits:
X-ray: NASA / CXC / Univ. of Hertfordshire / M. Hardcastle et al.

Saturn and Methane

Saturn and MethaneThis picture of Saturn was made by the Cassini spacecraft at wavelengths of light that are absorbed by methane. The darker areas are regions where light travels further into the atmosphere, passing through more methane before being reflected off of clouds. The deeper the light goes, the more of it gets absorbed by methane, and the darker that part of Saturn appears.

The small moon just below the rings on the right is Dione.

Image Credit: NASA