The Riddle of the Missing Stars


Credits—
Directed by: Georgia Bladon
Visual design and editing: Martin Kornmesser
Written by: Georgia Bladon and Nicky Guttridge
Narration: Sara Mendes da Costa
Images: NASA, ESA/Hubble
Videos: NASA, ESA/Hubble
Animations: Martin Kornmesser, NASA, ESA/Hubble
Music: Jennifer Athena Galatis
Web and technical support: Mathias Andre and Raquel Yumi Shida
Executive producer: Lars Lindberg Christensen

NGC 986


A spiral in a furnaceNGC 986 is found in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), located in the southern sky. NGC 986 is around 56 million light-years away, and its golden center and barred swirling arms are clearly visible in this image assembled from data captured by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. (The stars in the upper right appear a little fuzzy because a gap in the Hubble data was filled in with images from ground-based telescopes. The view  is accurate, but the resolution is no match for Hubble.)

Barred spiral galaxies are spiral galaxies with stars forming a central bar-shaped structure. NGC 986 has the characteristic S-shaped structure of this type of galaxy. Young blue stars can be seen dotted through the galaxy’s arms, and the core is also alight with star formation.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

NGC 4762


ngc 4762This is a disk galaxy seen almost perfectly edge on. The image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows us just how thin disk galaxies can be. NGC 4762, a galaxy in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, is so thin that it is actually difficult to determine what type of disk galaxy it is. Its lack of a visible dust lane suggests that it is probably a low-dust lenticular galaxy, but it is still possible that a view from another angle would reveal spiral structure. The galaxy spans about 100,000 light years from end to end, with its center showing a slight bulge of stars. Most galaxies don’t appear this thin because our point of view from Earth doesn’t line up well enough with the planes of their thin galactic disks. However, galaxies this thin are common. Indeed, our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have roughly the same overall dimensions as NGC 4762.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

The Cone Nebula


Cone NebulaThe cone’s shape comes from a dark absorption nebula consisting of cold molecular hydrogen and dust in front of a faint emission nebula containing hydrogen ionized by S Monocerotis, the brightest star of NGC 2264. The faint nebula is approximately 2,700 light-years from Earth.

Beldar was unavailable to confirm that this is the correct location for his home planet Remulak.

Image Credit: NASA