Best of AOP - Galaxies

NGC 3079

If you could speed up time and watch this galaxy evolve, the center of NGC 3079 would bubble with hot gas not unlike the shallow lava pits of Hawaii. A burst of star formation is creating tremendous stellar winds and accelerating particles and gas to many thousands of light years above (and beneath) the plane of the galaxy. These filaments of gas glow strongly in the emission given off by excited hydrogen atoms. The Hubble Space Telescope image obviously shows this feature with much more clarity. Interestingly, this gas will not reach escape velocity, but will rain back down onto the plane of the galaxy and potentially trigger more star formation! This colorful spiral galaxy is at a distance of 50 million light years away.

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Last Updated: 13-Mar-2014

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About This Image

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20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.1

Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

LRGB color production was used to create this image.

Luminance = 90 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 20 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 20 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 20 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: Jeff Hapeman/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF