A Starbursting Galaxy

This is the dwarf galaxy known as NGC 1140. It lies 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus. It has an irregular form, much like the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. This small galaxy is undergoing a starburst. Despite being only about one-tenth the size of the Milky Way, it is creating stars at about the same rate—the equivalent of one star the size of our sun being created per year. The galaxy is full of bright, blue-white, young stars.

Galaxies like NGC 1140 are of particular interest to astronomers because their composition makes them similar to the intensely star-forming galaxies in the early Universe, and those early Universe galaxies were the building blocks of present-day large galaxies like our Milky Way. Because they are so far away, the early Universe galaxies are harder to study, so these closer starbursting galaxies are a good substitute for studyingt galaxy evolution.

Its vigorous star formation eventually will have a very destructive effect on this small dwarf galaxy. When the larger stars in the galaxy die and explode as supernovae, the gas blown into space may escape the gravitational pull of the galaxy. The ejection of gas from the galaxy throws away one of the building blocks for future star formation. Thus, NGC 1140’s starburst cannot last for long.

Image Credit: ESA

NGC 6153

A nitrogen-rich nebula This is NGC 6153. The faint blue haze is what remains of a star like the sun after it had depleted most of its fuel. When that happened, the outer layers of the star were ejected and then ionized by the ultraviolet light from hot core of the star, forming the nebula.

NGC 6153 is a planetary nebula which contains large amounts of neon, argon, oxygen, carbon and chlorine—up to three times more than can be found in our solar system. It contains five times more nitrogen than our sun! It could be that the star developed higher levels of these elements as it grew and evolved, but it is more likely that the star originally formed from a cloud of material that already contained an abundance of those elements.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

On the Edge of the Local Void

0105-4x5color.aiMost galaxies are clumped together in groups or clusters, but NGC 6503 is in a lonely position at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void. The Local Void is a region of space over 150 million light-years across that is essentially empty of stars or galaxies. NGC 6503 is 18 million light-years away from us in the constellation Draco. It’s about 30,000 light-years or a third of the size of the Milky Way.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA


G49 FilamentThis image shows a filament of dust and gas called G49. It contains 80,000 Suns’ worth of mass and measures about 280 light-years long by roughly 5 light-years across. It’s about 18,000 light-years away.

In this false-color image taken by the Herschel space observatory, longer-wavelength light has been assigned visible colors. Light with wavelengths of 70 µm is blue, 160 µm light is green. 350 µm light is red. The cooler gas seen in red and yellow is quite cold, as low as -252 C.

Image Credit: ESA

Galactic Onion

Galactic onionThis is NGC 3923, an example of a shell galaxy in which the stars in its halo are arranged in layers. Roughy ten percent of all elliptical galaxy exhibits this onion-like structure. The shell-like structures are thought to result from galactic cannibalism when a larger galaxy swallows a smaller companion. As the galactic centers approach, they initially oscillate about a common center. Ripples flow outwards forming the shells of stars, a three dimensional equivalent of ripples on a pond spreading across its surface. NGC 3923 has over twenty shells, but only a few of the outer ones visible in this picture.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA