Sitting in the arms of Cassiopeia (The Seated Queen)
Space news (galaxy evolution: unusual galaxies; spiral galaxy NGC 278) – 38 million light-years away, sitting in the arms of northern constellation Cassiopeia (The Seated Queen) –
The image above shows spiral galaxy NGC 278, a very unusual island universe astronomers are currently studying looking for clues to its unique nature. This unusual galaxy looks quiet and serene from here, but there’s unusual starburst activity taking place astronomers are currently trying to explain.
Each of the unmistakable blue knots seen strewn across NGC 278’s spiral arms is a clump of hot, newly born stars. These blue knots of young stars doesn’t extend to the outer edges of the galaxy but only reside within an inner ring some 6,500 light-years across. The two-tiered structure astronomers have identified within NGC 278 shows a bright galactic center, with much darker outer regions.
Astrophysicists studying this unusual spiral galaxy think this weird two-tiered structure and current starburst activity is due to a recent merger with a smaller, gas-rich galaxy. A merger that has ignited starburst within the center of this island universe, while the leftovers of the galactic snack dispersed into its outer regions. This activity created the ring of blue knots of newly formed stars seen here, which astronomers have dubbed a nuclear ring. A very unusual structure not often observed in galaxies with a bar across their center region. Making NGC 278 an unusual, intriguing galactic specimen they plan on studying closer for clues to its unusual nature.
Space information (February 03, 2015) – lenticular galaxies –
Lenticular galaxies are a class of galaxy space scientists have always considered to be an intermediate form between spiral and elliptical class galaxies. This type of galaxy is characterized by a prominent central bulge and disk, with no obvious arms like the Milky Way. More recently, space scientists are starting to think lenticular galaxies could be the end result of a collision between galaxies, resulting in the different varieties recorded during the human journey to the beginning of space and time.
The Hubble Space Telescope image below shows Arp 230 (IC 51), an oddly-shaped galaxy recorded in Halton Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, classified as a lenticular galaxy. NASA space scientists studying Arp 230 believe the funny-looking shape of this galaxy is the end result of a collision between two galaxies smaller than our own Milky Way.
The ring of light seen surrounding the galaxy is gas, dust, and stars orbiting the poles of the galaxy they call a polar ring. Space scientists think this is mainly composed of remnants of the smaller of the two colliding galaxies, which was perpendicular to the disk of the larger galaxy during their merger. Space scientists believe this would have resulted in the formation of the polar ring as the smaller galaxy was torn to pieces by the chaos.
NASA scientists and astronomers studying and classifying lenticular galaxies are now going over each galaxy in this classification to see if they can find more data to support their ideas. At the same time, they’ll begin conducting computer simulations using available data to obtain a better understanding of lenticular galaxies.
You can learn more about the Hubble Space Telescope here.
You can learn more about galaxies and their evolution here.
You can learn more about lenticular galaxies here.