This is page 3 of the collection of the 50 most spectacular galaxy pictures of all time. Use the navigation pager near the bottom of each page to view all other pages. You can also view all the galaxy pictures along with their descriptions on a single page.
NGC 6384 is a spiral galaxy located in the direction of the Ophiuchus (Serpent Bearer) constellation. Its distance from the Earth is about 80 million light-years. Its diameter is about 150,000 light-years. The above picture is a close-up shot of its central region. It shows a yellowish core surrounded by bluish spiral arms and brownish dust-lanes.
AM 0644-741 is a ring galaxy located in the direction of the Volans constellation in the Southern Hemisphere. Its distance from the Earth is about 300 million light-years. As shown in the above picture, its egg-shaped structure consists of two parts -- an outer ring of young, bluish star-clusters, and an inner, yellowish nucleus. The sparkling outer ring looks like a bracelet studded with diamonds. Its diameter is about 150,000 light-years, which is larger than that of our Milky Way Galaxy. Another galaxy is thought to have shot right through its center, creating its ring-like shape, and triggering a massive production of new stars in the ring due to the gravitational shock. Before that, it might have been a normal spiral galaxy.
NGC 3314A and NGC 3314B are overlapping galaxies located in the direction of the Hydra constellation. They almost form a heart-shaped pattern in the center of the image. They are not gravitationally interacting or colliding, because they are separated by a distance of millions of light-years from each other. When seen from the Earth, they appear to be overlapping just because they happen to be in the same direction by chance. The dust-lanes of the foreground galaxy (NGC 3314A) are silhouetted against the brightness of the background galaxy (NGC 3314B).
Abell S0740 is a cluster of galaxies located in the direction of the Centaurus constellation. It consists of a diverse set of galaxies. The brightest galaxy in the cluster is a giant elliptical galaxy called ESO 325-G004. Its diameter is about 100,000 light-years and it contains an estimated 100 billion stars. Its enormous mass creates gravitational lensing. Its distance from the Earth is about 450 million light-years. Thousands of globular clusters orbit it. Each globular cluster is a compact group of hundreds of thousands of stars that are gravitationally bound together. Since the galaxy is located so far away from us, the globular clusters merely appear as tiny points of light around its halo in the above picture. A large spiral galaxy appears in the bottom left corner of the picture. Many other spiral and elliptical galaxies are present in the galaxy cluster.
NGC 2841 is a flocculent spiral-galaxy located in the direction of the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation. Its distance from the Earth is about 65 million light-years. The above picture is a close-up shot of its nucleus. Bluish star clusters and dust lanes are clearly visible around the yellowish nucleus. A flocculent spiral galaxy has short spiral arms instead of the prominent and well-defined galactic limbs of a 'grand design' spiral galaxy.
NGC 1672 is an barred spiral-galaxy located in the direction of the Draco constellation in the Southern Hemisphere. Its distance from the Earth is about 60 million light-years. The above picture shows star formation regions along its spiral arms. What appear as bluish dots along the arms are clusters of hot, young stars. The reddish spots are clouds of hydrogen gas, and the brownish streaks are dust-lanes.
SN 1994D was a 'type Ia supernova' explosion discovered in 1994 on the outskirts of the NGC 4526 galaxy. It looks like a shining flashlight in the lower left portion of the above picture. The NGC 4526 galaxy is a spiral galaxy located in the direction of the Virgo constellation. Its distance from the Earth is about 50 million light-years. A type Ia supernova occurs in a binary system i.e. a system of two stars orbiting each other. One of the stars in the system must be a white dwarf. A white dwarf is so dense that a teaspoon of its matter would weigh five tons on Earth! The intense gravity of the white dwarf keeps pulling material from its companion star. This keeps increasing the mass of the white dwarf. The companion star can be a smaller white dwarf or even a giant star. When the mass of the white dwarf star reaches 1.4 solar masses, a nuclear chain reaction occurs that makes it to explode. The light from the explosion is so bright that it can briefly outshine all the stars in its galaxy!
The strange NGC 7742 galaxy shown above looks like a fried egg ('sunny side up'). It is a spiral galaxy located about 72 million light-years away from the Earth in the direction of the Pegasus constellation. It is a Type 2 Seyfert galaxy. A Seyfert galaxy is a galaxy whose nucleus shows emissions lines in its spectrum, due to highly ionized gas. The spectrum of a Type 1 Seyfert galaxy shows both narrow and broad emission lines, and the spectrum of a Type 2 Seyfert galaxy shows only narrow emission lines. The yellowish core of the NGC 7742 looks like a yolk in the above picture. It may contain a massive black hole. The whitish inner-ring surrounding the core gives it a unique look. This ring is a region of active star-birth. Its distance from the core is about 3,000 light-years. The diameter of the entire galaxy is about 36,000 light-years.
Over the course of several billion years, a small satellite-galaxy can get stretched into a ribbon-like structure, as it revolves around a large, massive galaxy. This ribbon-like structure of stars, dust and gas is called a tidal stream. Ultimately, the tidal stream may completely disappear by merging with the larger galaxy. The above picture shows a faint tidal stream around the Splinter Galaxy. The Splinter Galaxy is also known as the Knife Edge Galaxy or NGC 5907. It is a spiral galaxy located about 53 million light-years away from the Earth in the direction of the Draco constellation. The following illustration is an exaggerated look of a tidal stream: -
The above image is an artist's illustration of a tidal stream. The orange blob is a small satellite-galaxy revolving around a large, massive galaxy. Over the course of several billion years, it has got stretched into a 'tidal stream,' which looks like a bright ribbon of stars, dust and gas surrounding the large galaxy. For a real-life example of a tidal stream, see the previous picture of the Splinter Galaxy (NGC 5907).