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.

2007 May 31
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Dwarf Galaxies in the Coma Cluster
Credit: Leigh Jenkins, Ann Hornschemeier (Goddard Space Flight Center) et al.,

Explanation: In visible light images, over a thousand galaxies are seen to lie within a volume about 20 million light-years across in the rich Coma Galaxy Cluster. But infrared images of the Coma Cluster have now been used to add thousands more to the Coma's galaxy count in the form of previously undiscovered dwarf galaxies. This composite combines infrared Spitzer Space Telescope image data (red and green) with visible light Sloan Sky Survey data (blue) for the central part of the cluster. Over 1 degree wide, the field is dominated by two giant elliptical galaxies in blue. Still, many of the small green smudges (see magnified inset) are identified as dwarf galaxies, roughly comparable to the Small Magellanic Cloud. Dwarf galaxies are thought to form first, providing building blocks for larger galaxies. The well-studied, friendly, Coma Cluster is 320 million light-years away.

Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space

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