13 February 2017 | Galactic Ripples


Image credit & copyright: CHART32 | Processing: Johannes Schedler| Click image to enlarge

Image Data

  • Camera: FLI PL-16803
  • Optics: 80cm f/7 Astrooptik Keller cassegrain
  • Filters: Astrodon LRGB GenII
  • Exposure: LRGB (540-160-160-160 min) total 17 h

Shining at a distance of 60 million light years, the elliptical galaxy NGC 1344 is the main focus of this deep telescopic image taken from Chile. Located in the constellation Fornax, its bright core is easily observable in amateur telescopes but the many ripple like shells can only be seen in long exposure astrophotography.

NGC 1344 was one of the first shell elliptical galaxies to be identified in the 1980’s by the astronomers David Malin and David Carter. Their photographic plates plus the combination of the at the time revolutionary process of ‘photographic amplification‘ uncovered a multitude of outer tidal shells for the first time!

Since then, many shell ellipticals have been identified and shells have been found around a number of spiral galaxies. The explanation more frequently invoked for the genesis of shell ellipticals is that they are the result of a merger between two galaxies. Another scenario is that their formation can be triggered through interaction with another nearby galaxy.

In addition to the many internal shells visible around the core, a faint tidal arc can be seen above and to the right. In the opposite direction, a faint counter tidal arc can be glimpsed below and to the left of the core. Viewing the full resolution image opens up a cosmic web of dozens of background galaxies that are likely to be located billions of light years away! Providing a dash of colour to the otherwise monochrome proceedings are bright nearby stars (on a cosmic scale) situated in the Milky Way, their diffraction spikes an artifact of the telescope equipment.

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