Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2006 August 31
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Extra Galaxies
Credit & Copyright: 2006 Astr. Campers, Adam Block (Caelum Obs.), CSS, U. Arizona Alum. Assoc.

Explanation: Careful inspection of the full field of view for this sharp composite image reveals a surprising number of galaxies both near and far toward the constellation Ursa Major. The most striking is clearly NGC 3718, a warped spiral galaxy found near picture center. NGC 3718's faint spiral arms look twisted and extended, its bright central region crossed by obscuring dust lanes. A mere 150 thousand light-years to the right is another large spiral galaxy, NGC 3729. The two are likely interacting gravitationally, accounting for the peculiar appearance of NGC 3718. While this galaxy pair lies about 52 million light-years away, the remarkable Hickson Group 56 can also be seen clustered just below NGC 3718. Hickson Group 56 consists of five interacting galaxies and lies over 400 million light-years away.

Tomorrow's picture: persistence of memory

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