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NGC 5866

This is an image of the galaxy, NGC 5866. Part of a group of galaxies in the constellation Draco, this galaxy is rather difficult to see well because of its distance from Earth. It might have been discovered at first by either Pierre Méchain or Charles Messier in the year 1781, but this is controversial and no one knows if this is actually true. Therefore, many astronomers say that it was actually discovered by William Hershel in the year 1788. This galaxy is known as a lenticular galaxy. It is a transition type between elliptical galaxies and spiral galaxies, however because of the galaxy always being seen from edge-on, it is often thought that it may actually be a spiral galaxy.

NGC 5866 is measured to be approximately 40 million lightyears away from Earth and to have a dimension of 117x90 arc-seconds. This translates to a linear extension of about 23,000x17,000 lightyears. One of the most notable aspects of this image is the dark band that is visible in the middle of the galaxy. This represents a dust lane that runs along the equatorial plane on the galaxy. It is so easy to see because of the bright inner core of the galaxy. Because of the visible dust plane, we can assume that there is also gas available in the galaxy. When both dust and gas a present, there is the ability for new stars to be formed. This dust plane also gives us a good reason to believe that this really is a spiral galaxy because dust planes are present in spiral arms.

References:

http://lizika.pfmb.uni-mb.si/observatorij/projekti/virtualnasola/sola/planetarij/Ozvezdja_Messier_WWW/messier/m/ngc5866.html

Comins, Neil F., and WiIliam J. Kaufmann III. Discovering the Universe. fifth ed. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2000. N. pag. Print.

http://messier.seds.org/m/ngc5866.html

Right Ascension (J2000) 15:06:29.4
Declination (J2000) +55:45:49
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure time per filter B, C, R,V (60s x 5)
Date observed October 13, 2011

 

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