What’s in a Name?

This galaxy is called 2XMM J143450.5+033843. That may seem like some random collection characters, but the name is meaningful to an astronomer. The first four characters show that it was discovered during the second sky survey performed by ESA’s XMM-Newton satellite—2XMM.  The characters following the J are its address in the sky: a right ascension of 14h (hours) 34m (minutes) 50.5s (seconds) and a declination of +03d (degrees) 38m (minutes) 43s (seconds).

2XMM J143450.5+033843 is almost 400 million light-years from Earth. It is a Seyfert galaxy that is dominated by a supermassive black hole that is pumping out vast amounts of radiation from its galactic core.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?


    • The right ascension and declination data are given based on the where the object would be found in the sky when the Earth is at an equinox. When they are preceded by a J, the data refers to the equinoxes in 2000.


  1. So 400 million years ago, it looked like this … What it looks like now is anybody guess, so I’m guessing it went with bell bottoms and tie dye this year.

    Is there a pattern of A =, B =, or were only certain letters chosen to represent locations?

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