Galaxies Galore

The universe is such a vast place and there are all sorts of incredible things that reside in it. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and as astronomers continue to research and discover new things everyday, it’s important to come up with some kind of classification system to organize all the findings.

In the previous conceptual objective, we learned about our galaxy the Milky Way. The Milky Way is just one out of billions of galaxies that exist the universe. There are tons of galaxies out there and possess different traits and properties from the Milky Way.  In “Among The Clouds: Skywatcher Captures Unique Photo of the Andromeda Galaxy“, this space article reports on the neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, located 2.5 million light years away from Earth. The picture provided in the article is a newly captured high-resolution picture of the distant galaxy. It shows that, like us, Andromeda is a spiral-shaped galaxy, consisting of a central nucleus and spiral arms. We learned in class through the lecture tutorial, Galaxy Classifications that spiral galaxies are more bluish in color in the arms because there are active star formation there, whereas the center may contain older, red stars. Star formation requires a lot of gas and dust exchange, so spiral galaxies tend to be more abundant in gas, appearing dusty in their disk-shaped format.

This is NASA’s classification diagram of the different ranges of spiral and elliptical galaxies. The diagram may infer that eventually spiral galaxies might turn into elliptical galaxies, because the young stars of spiral galaxies will mature and turn out like the ones in elliptical galaxies.

The second main category of galaxies are elliptical galaxies and they were discussed in this following article, “A Cosmic Collision Spawned This Cannibalistic Monster Galaxy“. As you can see, astronomers are using galaxy characteristics to study them. The article states that Hubble Telescope shows, “a very complex system of dusty trails intertwined within NGC 1316 — unusual for most elliptical galaxies”. Elliptical galaxies typically don’t have a lot of dust because older stars usually encompasses them, there’s no active star formation. By knowing the basic properties of galaxies, they were able to detect and learn that the NGC 1316 was on path of colliding with NGC 1317.

As you can see, elliptical galaxies look very different from spiral galaxies. They don’t have any spiral arms and appear in a spherical shape rather than disk-like. They are reddish in color, signifying that the stars making it up are older stars. There are no active star formation.

 

Before learning about galaxies, I never really thought about them and had no idea there were different types. Also, it was very surprising to me that we didn’t even have a picture of our own galaxy, the Milky Way! Come to find out, it’s because we’re living in it and like mentioned in the previous blog post, it can be very difficult to study it while living inside of it. This is why we rely on the studies of other galaxies, because by looking at the characteristics and watching out for patterns in the ones alike, it can lead us in the right direction of finding out more about our galaxy.

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