Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Here’s an amazing Hubble image of spiral galaxy NGC 2441 in the constellation Camelopardalis (The Giraffe). It resides a mind bending 180 million light years away which means this is what the galaxy looked like 115 million years before the dinosaurs got smacked into extinction. This image shows long sweeping arms of blue stars mixed with bands of gas and dust throughout. The normal sign of older yellow stars can be seen orbiting near the nucleus.
I love seeing these distant galaxies, not just for their beauty and structure but because when you look, the space beyond them is littered with galaxies. Some of those distant galaxies are still infants as we see them and some, like the one at the upper left corner of this image, show a full grown beautiful spiral where who knows, millions of intelligent beings could be going about their daily lives. Well, whatever a “day” may be to them.
Finally I want to draw your attention to a Type-1a supernova in this image cataloged as SN1995E. It’s only a small white dot in this image, located at about the 10 o’clock position, about halfway out from the nucleus. In the links below I posted the annotated version if you so desire.
A Type-1a supernova is where a white dwarf steals material from its still living counterpart until it reaches 1.4 solar masses (The Chandrasekhar Limit), becomes unstable and explodes. It’s worth noting that Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, an Indian astronomer devised this calculation in 1930 when he was only 19 years of age.
NAME: NGC 2441.
WHAT IS IT?: Spiral galaxy.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: About 180 million light years away.
HOW BIG IS IT?: 2’ X 1.8’ arcminutes on the night sky.
DISCOVERY?: Wilhelm Tempel (Yep, THAT Tempel) in 1882.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE: Pretty dim 12.7.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Northern constellation Camelopardalis (The Giraffe).
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC): RA 07h 51m 54.772s / DEC +73° 00′ 56.42″.
NASA page for this image: http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-eyes-a-curious-supernova-in-ngc-2441/
ESA Hubble page for this image: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1425a/
ESA Hubble page for this image (annotated): http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/potw1425b/