SAY HELLO TO STAR CITY NGC3982.
Photo Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope: CLICK for larger size image and see below for links and information.
What can you tell from this structure right off the bat? Well yes, of course it’s a face-on spiral galaxy, but what about it? Astronomers of all types; in fact, all of astronomy and cosmology comes down to one fundamental truth. Aside from some interplanetary probes and meteorites, everything we know about what’s happening outside of fishbowl Earth is deduced from the collection, study and interpretation of light. The electromagnetic spectrum delivers the universe to us, from short, high energy gamma rays to long, weak radio waves our ability to understand the universe comes down to observation and interpretation.
So what’s this city telling us? The sound spiral structure itself leads us to interpret that the galaxy is pretty stable. It doesn’t appear to be disturbed greatly or at all by the mutual gravitational attraction of another galaxy. The bright blue regions are healthy young stars and star clusters while the pink regions are massive areas of star formation within hydrogen pockets which are being fed by the great dark bands of material lining the spiral arms with them.
Like a whirlpool, stars are inherently over time moved toward the center of the structure. The yellowish hue to the nucleus of the galaxy means that there is a mass concentration of older yellow stars there tightly packed within the rush hour traffic jam. At that nucleus appears to be a mini-spiral of sorts between the circumnuclear star forming regions and the nucleus itself. This structure is believed to be the “highway” through which the gas and material is transported to the supermassive black hole at the core.
Intense regions of new star formation also typically lead to high numbers of supernovae activity, and indeed; in 1998 supernova SN1998aq was witnessed in NGC 3982.
NAME: NGC 3982, UGC 6918.
WHAT IS IT?: Seyfert type 2, Intermediate spiral galaxy. Intermediate just means that it appears to be in between a barred and non-barred spiral classification.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 68 million light years distant.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Only about one-third the size of our Milky Way galaxy; about 30,000 light years in diameter.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: 12.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Ursa Majoris the “Big Bear” and it’s also a member of the M109 group of galaxies which contains roughly 50 galaxies.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 11h 56m 28.1s / DEC +55° 07′ 31″.
ESA Space Telescope page for this photo: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo1036a/
NASA HubbleSite page for this photo: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/pr2010036a/
NASA HubbleSite News Center for this image: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2010/36/image/a/