Sunday, May 15, 2011

Go Out and Discover

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is M 104, the Sombrero Galaxy. It's quite striking because of its nearly edge on profile and the prominent dust lane. You can click on the picture and blow it up. Which is cool because there's a lot more to see when you do.

In particular, even before enlarging the image, I noticed a really neat pair of galaxies. These two stand out to me because they're spiral galaxies that appear to be interacting. But what's really interesting is just how similar the two appear to be. They're the same size, similar surface brightnesses, and a similar color (a distinct blue, unlike many of the other galaxies in the field which are notably reddish).

Hidden in the fog of M 104 was another galaxy I liked. This one stands out because, just like the galaxy behind which it's lurking, it too has a prominent dust lane. Galaxies of a feather, or something like that. This galaxy, like many others is quite red, but I can chalk some of that up to the scattering and absorption as the light passes through the ISM of M 104.

Regardless, I was passingly curious about these little guys and wanted to know if there was anything exciting going on with them. So I pulled up the Aladin Sky Atlas with the SIMBAD overlay for object identification and.... there was nothing. Neither of these objects even have a designation.

It's times like these I'm suddenly struck and reminded of just how big our universe is. We catalog and explore millions upon millions of stars and galaxies, but there's always more waiting in the wings, waiting to be explored. A cosmic frontier just waiting for us to go out and discover.


Stephen Uitti said...

I really like this sort of image of m104 over the HST/Chandra version. While the multi-spectral version has interesting things to say, this is the sort of thing you more or less really see, with a big scope.

How do you get a look through a big scope? One of the clubs i belong to has a 22" Dob. Another nearby club has a 24" Newtonian in an observatory. Both clubs have free monthly public events with access to these beasts. How hard is that?

Conroy said...

I love the universe, so much to be explored and so much technology to be explored to explore it! This is the advancement of humanity!

czurnieden said...


these two objects have been cataloged in USNOA2 as 0750-07913859 and 0750-07913885 respectively.
They show some high luminance in IR as can be seen here