Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope with processing by Martin Pugh.
Located in the constellation Eridanus (The River) about 100 million light years away is this small but beautiful spiral galaxy cataloged as NGC 1309. Only about 30,000 light years in diameter this galaxy is much smaller than our star city. Its diameter is only about one-third the size of the Milky Way galaxy but that makes it no less beautiful.
A member of the some 200 galaxies that make up the Eridanus Group of Galaxies; this spiral is alive with star formation. The well-defined blue spiral arms are awash in blue, which indicates a flurry of new star formation and if you follow the thick dust lanes within those arms, you will see the golden core of ancient yellow stars that have likely filtered to the center over time like leaves in a pool after you get a good whirlpool going.
More than just a pretty face, NGC 1309 is a contributor to the universe as we know it. In 2002 light from supernova SN2002FK reached earth and gave astronomers a “standard candle” to help measure distances and the rate of expansion in the universe. Information gained through that experience is still in use today.
What else do you notice here? How about up at the 10 o’clock position; that’s right a distant barred spiral galaxy that’s much further beyond but not so far as its blended in with the background. At the 4 o’clock position there’s one close enough to be worth mentioning as well. It’s another spiral galaxy in the group photobombing NGC 1309’s closeup. One last thing; if you are reading this on the blog DanSpace77.com go ahead and click on that image to expand it and get ready to be amazed as those small points of light beyond this galaxy in the image are in fact, thousands of galaxies themselves. Many of them are in the Eridanus Group so they are close enough to resolve into form……ENJOY and have a great Monday!
NAME: NGC 1309.
WHAT IS IT?: Spiral Galaxy
HOW BIG IS IT?: 30,000 light years in diameter or just about one-third the size of the Milky Way.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Roughly 100 million light years.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: A very dim 11.5.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Eridanus (The River) and a member of the Eridanus Group of Galaxies.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 3h 22m 5s / DEC -15d 23’ 49”.
Hubblesite News Center for this image: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2006/07/image/a/
Hubblesite Gallery page for this image: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/printshop/ps20/
Hubblesite Gallery page-2 for this image: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/wallpaper/pr2006007a/
NASA APOD page for this image: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130116.html
ESA Hubble page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo1432b/
The Hubble Legacy Archive: http://hla.stsci.edu/
The Hubble Heritage Project: http://heritage.stsci.edu/