Our cosmic adventure this week takes us bounding through the universe to visit three very different galaxies. And why shouldn’t each be singular and weird? If you’ve ever seen the Hubble Space Telescope’s Deep Field image, you know there are trillions of galaxies out there. Not all of them can be perfect spirals or slim, neat disks of stars.
Let’s start with one 70 million light years from Earth. NGC 3169 is a spiral galaxy, and the angle at which Hubble catches it gives us a good perspective on what’s happening there. We’re able to get a better view of the density of dust and gas in this galaxy, than, say, one that is completely face on or one we can only see from the side. Despite being so far away, it is technically in the Virgo supercluster along with our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
Next we’ll stop by Centaurus A, which is a bit of an oddball in that it does not look like a galaxy, but rather a bright smear of starlight. It’s a very active star-forming galaxy, but those new stars might want to stay out of the center of their homeland. Lurking at the heart of Centaurus A is a super-massive black hole that is slowly devouring gas and dust. So while life brims around the edges, there is only death at the core.
NGC 1156 is also a nonconformist in the world of galaxies. It looks like a painter dipped a brush in red paint, randomly dabbed down stars, and called it a day. But there’s a lot cooking here too—NGC 1156 has a healthy combination of young star-forming regions that glow in hot red and younger, growing stars that shine in blue.
Have you gotten a message in space? Slide into the full cosmic collection here.
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