US-based space agency NASA has released an image showing a famous galaxy in a new light. The bright swirling object shown in the photograph was shot by NASA and European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope.
Galaxy NGC 1803 is surrounded by ink-black space and an array of stars in the image.
This galaxy is one of a galactic pair
NGC 1803 has been calculated to be 200 million light-years distant from Earth.
And the star system is found in the southern constellation of Pictor, also known as the Painter’s Easel.
NGC 1803 was discovered in 1834 by astronomer Sir John Herschel.
English polymath Sir Herschel is a big name in astronomy.
Sir Herschel, his father William and aunt Caroline all made huge contributions to the field, and their legacies remain today.
William Herschel systematically cataloged many of the objects he viewed in the night sky, named many moons in the solar system, discovered infrared radiation and more.
Caroline Herschel discovered several comets and nebulas.
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NASA wrote in a statement accompanying the image: “This gives rise to the NGC names assigned to a vast number of galaxies — including NGC 1803.
“This galaxy is one of a galactic pair. It was described by Dreyer as being ‘faint, small and round’, and located near to a very bright star to the southeast.”
This star is in fact the nebulous lenticular galaxy PGC 16720, not visible in this image.
What is a galaxy?
A galaxy is a huge collection of gas, dust, and of stars and their solar systems.
These bodies are held together by gravity. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, also has a supermassive black hole at its core.
When you look up at stars in the night sky, you are seeing other stars in the Milky Way.
There are so many galaxies other than ours, experts cannot even count them all.
The Hubble Space Telescope looked at a small patch of space for 12 days and found 10,000 galaxies, of all sizes, shapes and colours.
Some astronomers believe there could be as many as one hundred billion galaxies in the universe.
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