Strike!

The subject of this image is a group of three galaxies, collectively known as NGC 7764A. They were imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, using both its Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). The two galaxies in the upper right of the image appear to be interacting with one another — indeed, the long trails of stars and gas extending from them both give the impression that they have both just been struck at great speed, thrown into disarray by the bowling-ball-shaped galaxy to the lower left of the image. In reality, however, interactions between galaxies happen over very long time periods, and galaxies rarely collide head-on with one another. It is also unclear whether the galaxy to the lower left is actually interacting with the other two, although they are so relatively close in space that it seems possible that they are. By happy coincidence, the collective interaction between these galaxies have caused the two on the upper right to form a shape, which from our Solar System's perspective, ressembles the starship known as the USS Enterprise from Star Trek!

NGC 7764A, which lies about 425 million light years from Earth in the constellation Phoenix, is a fascinating example of just how awkward astronomical nomenclature can be. The three galaxies are individually referred to as NGC 7764A1, NGC 7764A2 and NGC 7764A3, and just to be really difficult, an entirely separate galaxy, named NGC 7764, sits in the skies about a Moon’s distance (as seen from Earth) away. This rather haphazard naming makes more sense when we consider that many of the catalogues for keeping track of celestial bodies were compiled well over 100 years ago, long before modern technology made standardising scientific terminology much easier. As it is, many astronomical objects have several different names, or might have names that are so similar to other objects’ names that they cause confusion.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Dalcanton, Dark Energy Survey, DOE, FNAL, DECam, CTIO, NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, ESO
Acknowledgement: J. Schmidt

About the Image

Id:potw2204a
Type:Observation
Release date:24 January 2022, 06:00
Size:3008 x 2968 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 7764A
Constellation:Phoenix
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
1.4 MB
Screensize JPEG
180.4 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
146.4 KB
1280x1024
232.5 KB
1600x1200
345.2 KB
1920x1200
426.8 KB
2048x1536
570.6 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):23 53 24.11
Position (Dec):-40° 48' 38.91"
Field of view:2.51 x 2.48 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 1.5° right of vertical


Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
G
474 nmVíctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope
DECam
Optical
R
644 nmVíctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope
DECam
Optical
Z
919 nmVíctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope
DECam
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

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