Astronomy Picture of the Day – A Stretched Spiral Galaxy

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.

2016 April 26

NGC 6872: A Stretched Spiral Galaxy
Image Credit: FORS Team, 8.2-meter VLT Antu, ESO; Processing & License: Judy Schmidt

 

Explanation: What makes this spiral galaxy so long? Measuring over 700,000 light years across from top to bottom, NGC 6872, also known as the Condor galaxy, is one of the most elongated barred spiral galaxies known. The galaxy’s protracted shape likely results from 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 here, which exhibits an unusually high amount ofblue 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 toward the constellation of the Peacock (Pavo).