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Astr112 Photography Projects, Spring 2005

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Helix Galaxy, John Persenaire

Helix Galaxy

The Helix Galaxy is an unusual lenticular galaxy and it is also in the polar ring galaxy class. A lenticular galaxy is a galaxy with a central bulge and a large amount of interstellar medium, but without spiral arms. They have a smooth distibution of older stars, evenly distributed throughout the galactic disk. They are also known as S0 galaxies and when viewed edge on it looks like a lense. A polar ring galaxy is a rare form of galaxy that is the result of galaxy interactions. This could be from tidal capture of interstellar medium or the merging of a host galaxy and a smaller galaxy that is gas rich.

You can see the polar ring in the picture above. It is fainter than the main disk but loops around the upper right of part of the galaxy and goes perpendicular to the main disk. It is hard to see the bulge in the center of the disks because of the angle that we are viewing it from but it is obvious that the two disks share it as a central point. The linear size is approximately 1600 lightyears, though no clear distance is available and 20 million lightyears is the closest guess.

References:
"Polar Ring Galaxies" Observatoire de Paris.
"Helix Galaxy" The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight..
"Lenticular Galaxies." SEDS

Right Ascension (J2000) 08:56:02
Declination (J2000) 58:43:03
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in C. 4 exposures
Date observed

March 8, 2005 (C)