M61


M61Messier 61 is a type of galaxy known as a starburst galaxy. Starburst galaxies have an abnormally high rate of star formation, hungrily using up their reservoir of gas in a very short period of time (in astronomical terms). However, that’s not the only activity we believe is going on within M61; deep at its heart there is thought to be a supermassive black hole that is violently spewing out radiation.

Despite its inclusion in the Messier Catalogue, Messier 61 was actually discovered by Italian astronomer Barnabus Oriani in 1779. Charles Messier also noticed this galaxy on the very same day as Oriani, but mistook it for a comet.

Image Credit: NASA

NGC1288


FORS1 First Light - Spiral galaxy NGC 1288This is the spiral galaxy NGC 1288 in the southern constellation Fornax. The distance to this galaxy is about 300 million light-years, and it is receding from us at around of 4500 km/s. It’s roughly 200,000 light-years or about twice the diameter of the Milky Way.

Image Credit: ESO

NGC 4689


NGC 4689 is a spiral galaxy located about 54 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices and a member of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.

The galaxy’s star forming disk has been truncated which has caused the amount of star formation to be significantly reduced. The truncation may have been the result of interaction with other galaxies in the Virgo Cluster which caused the galaxy to lose much of its interstellar gas and dust, the fuel for new star formation. NGC 4689 has been classified as an Anemic galaxy because its lack of material for making new stars.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

NGC 5468


We see the galaxies around us in various orientations. NGC 5468 is a spiral galaxy which we see with an almost dead-on top-down view. Over the last couple of decades, NGC 5468 has hosted a number of supernovae: SN 1999cp, SN 2002cr, SN2002ed, SN2005P and SN2018dfg. Despite being just over 130 million light-years away, the  face-on orientation of the galaxy with respect to us makes it easier to spot such new “stars” as they appear.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

The Blinking Galaxy


NGC 6118NGC 6118 is a grand-design spiral galaxy, and it shines bright in this image taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Its central bar and tight spiral arms are clearly visible. The galaxy is sometimes known to amateur astronomers as the “Blinking Galaxy” because this relatively faint, fuzzy object can appear to flick into existence when viewed through small telescopes and then suddenly disappear again as the observer’s eye position shifted.

Image Credit: ESO

Lopsided M96


A galactic maelstromThis is Messier 96, a spiral galaxy a bit more than 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is roughly the same mass and size as the Milky Way, but unlike our more or less symmetrical galaxy, M96 is lopsided. Its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the apparent galactic center. Its arms are also asymmetrical, perhaps because of the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

A Big Sibling for the Milky Way


NGC 6744 is similar to our home galaxy, but it’s about 200,000 light-years in diameter, about twice the size of our galaxy. Like the Milky Way, NGC 6744 has a prominent central core packed with old yellow stars. Its dusty spiral arms glow in shades of pink and blue; while the blue sites are full of young star clusters, the pink ones are regions of active star formation, indicating that the galaxy is still very lively.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

A Home for Variable Stars


NGC 4603NGC 4603 is a spiral galaxy located a bit more than 100 million light years away in the constellation Centaurus. It’s a pure spiral galaxy with relatively loosely wound arms. During 1999, this galaxy was the subject of an extended study using the Hubble Space Telescope to locate Cepheid variable stars. Over 40 were found, and the measurement of their periodicities gave a net distance estimate of 108.7, +5.5,−4.9 million light years. That was consistent with the distance estimate determined through redshift measurements. As of the date of that study, NGC 4603 was the most distant galaxy for which a distance estimate had been made using Cepheid variable.

Image Credit: NASA

NGC 1309


NGC 1309NGC 1309 is a spiral galaxy about 120 million light-years away in the constellation Eridanus. It is about 75,000 light-years across which is roughly 3/4 the diameter of the Milky Way. It has moderately wound spiral arms but no ring. Bright blue areas of star formation are visible in the spiral arms, and the yellowish central nucleus contains older-population stars.

Image Credit: NASA

NGC 3982


NGC_3982NGC 3982 is located about 68 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy spans about 30,000 light-years,making it about one-third of the size of our Milky Way galaxy. The spiral arms of NGC 3982 are lined with pink star-forming regions of glowing hydrogen, newborn blue star clusters, and obscuring dust lanes that will provide the raw material for future generations of stars. The bright nucleus contains an older population of stars which are ever more densely packed toward the center.

Image Credit: NASA