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.

May 25, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

NGC 6872: A Stretched Spiral
Credit: FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO

Explanation: What makes NGC 6872 so long? Measuring over 700,000 light years across from top to bottom, NGC 6872 is one of the largest barred spiral galaxies known. The galaxy's elongated shape might have something to do with its continuing collision with the smaller galaxy IC 4970, visible just above center. Of particular interest is NGC 6872's spiral arm on the upper left, as pictured above, which exhibits an unusually high amount of blue star forming regions. The light we see today left these colliding giants before the days of the dinosaurs, about 300 million years ago. NGC 6872 is visible with a small telescope in the constellation of Pavo.

Tomorrow's picture: Chasing GRB 990510

< Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.