Using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-m Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, astronomers have captured this image of the grand design spiral galaxy NGC 1566.
NGC 1566 is located approximately 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Dorado.
Colloquially nicknamed the Spanish Dancer, this grand-design spiral galaxy was discovered on May 28, 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop.
Two spiral arms of NGC 1566 appear to wind around the galactic core, just like the arms of a dancer as they spin around and around in a furious twirl.
“NGC 1566 is home to stars at all stages of stellar evolution,” said Dr. Janice Lee, an astronomer with Gemini Observatory and NOIRLab, and her colleagues.
“In this image, the bright blue color that outlines the arms of the galaxy arises from young, brightly burning stars. Darker spots within these arms are dust lanes.”
“The arms are rich in gas, and form large-scale areas that provide the perfect environment for new stars to form.”
“Closer to the center of the galaxy are cooler, older stars and dust, all evident by the redder color in the image.”
At the center of NGC 1566 lies a supermassive black hole whose mass is estimated to be nearly 13 million solar masses.
“The distinct and highly luminous nucleus of the galaxy is known as an active galactic nucleus,” the astronomers said.
“The light from the nucleus changes on timescales of only hundreds of days, making its exact classification difficult for us.”
NGC 1566 is the brightest member of the Dorado Group, a loose group comprised of at least 46 galaxies.
“NGC 1566 itself is so dominant that it has its own group, the NGC 1566 Group,” the researchers said.
“The commanding role of this galaxy in the Dorado Group has made it a key target for scientists aiming to determine the distance to the group itself, thereby improving our understanding of large-scale structures within the Universe.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/dark-energy-camera-photo-ngc-1566-10587.html