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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

In A Galaxy, Very, Very Far Away...

Just, beyond a galaxy - far, far away....lie, two other galaxies, in a galaxy group that, the three - have all to themselves. The little group is called the "Leo Triplet" but it is actually likely part of a larger group of galaxies called the "Leo-I" ('Leo One') group.

Moreover, like most things 'cosmological', the connections don't end there: gas-streamer bridges connecting one galaxy or group of galaxies to another group - ultimately, ending in "super-clusters"; i.e., a cluster of clusters of galaxies - the largest, single structures in the universe!

The proximity of the Leo Triplet puts it roughly between our own "Local Group" of galaxies and the Leo-I group; "galaxy-group neighbors", so to speak - or numerically: only, around 30-35mly (million light-years) distant. How far away is that? Well, about 300 times the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy, which is ~120kly (~120,000ly), across.

The "Leo Triplet" consisting of galaxies NGC 3628 (left), M65 (upper right), and M66 (lower right). Image provided by the author using Insight Observatory's 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector, ATEO-1.
The "Leo Triplet" consisting of galaxies NGC 3628 (left), M65 (upper right), and M66 (lower right). Image provided by the author using Insight Observatory's 16" f/3.7 astrograph reflector, ATEO-1.
  
This tiny distant galaxy group features two spiral galaxies M-65 and M-66 discovered by French amateur astronomer Charles Messier; a comet-hunter by avocation. He tallied a list of small, dim objects in the night sky that appeared to be comets but he soon found we're not as they didn't move from their positions over long periods of time. They were permanent entities. He kept this list only to avoid these objects in future comet searches which he performed in the years around 1773.


The third galaxy, NGC-3628, another spiral saw edge-on; that is inclined 90° from our galactic perspective was discovered by German sister, and brother amateur astronomers William and Caroline Herschel back in the middle 1800s.

M-65, is a 'barless spiral, at 35mly. It is slightly warped, and, there has been some recent star birth activity in one of its gaseous H-II regions.

Of the three M-66 is closest at 31mly with a diameter of about 95kly. It is the brightest of the three but it is missing a large portion of one of its spiral arms. The missing mass from that arm was gravitationally removed by one or both of the other galaxies in the trio.

M-66, has a weak bar feature, extending from its core and in this way is reminiscent of our own barred-spiral galaxy, the Milky Way. As of 2018 five supernovae have been observed in M-66: SN-2016cok, 2009hd, 1997bs, SN-1989B, and 1973R. SN-1989B was discovered independently by amateur astronomers Mike Petrasko and Dale Alan Bryant - one, cold, still morning in Feb of that same year.

Lastly, NGC-3628, the edge-on galaxy in this trio is also known as the "hamburger" galaxy. (Yes - it does indeed look like a "quarter-pounder" - viewed from the side!) Its disk spans 90tly and sits at 35mly away. The galaxy is composed mostly of older stars and like the other two is easily visible in amateur-class telescopes (4+ inches of aperture diameter). NGC-3628 also sports a 300tly-long, 'tidal tail', connecting the other two galaxies. It is the most distant of the three at 35mly. Its disk is around 100tly across.

Since there has been so much supernovae activity within at least one of the galaxies in this trio, I've decided it would be a good idea to begin an extra-galactic supernova search program using these three 'island universes.

So, here's the plan: take images of the three galaxies all within a single frame at some periodic interval (time-series). Using an image of the three together that is known to be "supernova-free" - I can then compare subsequent images over time to the SN-free frame using a sort of 'blink comparator.

A blink-comparator is a device that was used frequently by astronomers to compare images of the same area of sky or objects within the same field-of-view of a telescope or camera over a specified interval. It involves the rapid sequencing back-and-forth of two images - one against the other. (In the distant, remote, ancient past - (*chuckle*: 1980's), I used two Kodak carousel slide projectors one stacked on the other projecting both slides at the same time onto a screen and then using a sheet of cardboard manually to alternately project the slide images one at a time in rapid succession onto the screen.

Currently, I'll use the two images in an animated, ".GIF", file, and "blink" them, that way. In this fashion, I can set the "blink" rate, interval, for optimal comparison. In this way, any deviation from the standard field (used as a sort of, 'control group'), such as blinking spot, line, or another anomaly, will stand out as extraneous data. This was how, Dr. Clyde W. Tombaugh, discovered the dwarf planet Pluto back in 1930. I'll be looking for any supernova activity within the three galaxies.

This is something that anyone using one of Insight Observatory's, remote telescopes can do on their own! It's a good way to involve oneself self in a Citizen Science project - of their own design!

I'll let you know if I find any action! -- you let me know what you find too!!

Dale Alan Bryant
Senior Contributing Science Writer
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Saturday, April 24, 2021

New Galaxy Image Sets from ATEO-3

Insight Observatory's affiliate remote telescope, the 12.5" f/9 Ritchey Chretien (ATEO-3) located at Deep Sky Chile has been very busy as of late producing additional image sets for Starbase. The latest additions to Starbase from ATEO-3 are image sets of Messier 83, the "Southern Pinwheel Galaxy", and NGC 1313, also known as the "Topsy Turvy Galaxy".

Messier 83 - the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy imaged on ATEO-3 and processed by Franck Jobard from Deep Sky Chile now available for download from Starbase
Messier 83 - the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy imaged on ATEO-3 and processed by Franck Jobard from Deep Sky Chile, now available for download from Starbase.

Messier 83 or M83, also known and NGC 5236, is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 15 million light-years away in the constellation borders of Hydra and Centaurus. Nicolas Louis de Lacaille discovered M83 on February 23, 1752, at the Cape of Good. Charles Messier added it to his catalog of nebulous objects (now known as the Messier Catalogue) in March 1781. It is one of the closest and brightest barred spiral galaxies in the sky and is visible with binoculars. Its nickname of the Southern Pinwheel derives from its resemblance to the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) in the northern constellation Ursa Major.

Starbase image set "M83 - Lum (2021): Southern Pinwheel Galaxy" has over 10 hours of Luminance image data and set "M83 - RGB (2021): Southern Pinwheel Galaxy" consists of 3 hours each of Red, Green, and Blue image data. 

Image Set Rates:
  • M83 - Lum (2021): Southern Pinwheel Galaxy are only $24.40 USD Education and $30.50 USD Standard. 

  • M83 - RGB (2021): Southern Pinwheel Galaxy are only $21.60 USD Education and $27.00 USD Standard.




NGC 1313 - the Topsy Turvy Galaxy imaged on ATEO-3 by Franck Jobard and processed by Utkarsh Mishra.
NGC 1313 - the Topsy Turvy Galaxy imaged on ATEO-3 by Franck Jobard and processed by Utkarsh Mishra from Deep Sky Chile now available for download from Starbase.

NGC 1313 is a field galaxy and a barred spiral galaxy discovered by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop on 27 September 1826. It has a diameter of about 50,000 light-years or about half the size of the Milky Way. NGC 1313 lies within the Virgo Supercluster. NGC 1313 has a strikingly uneven shape and its axis of rotation is not exactly in its center. The galaxy also shows strong starburst activity and associated super-shells. NGC 1313 is dominated by scattered patches of intense star formation, which gives the galaxy a rather ragged appearance. The uneven shape, the ragged appearance, and the strong starburst can all be explained by a galactic collision in the past. However, NGC 1313 seems to be an isolated galaxy and has no direct neighbors. Therefore, it is not clear whether it has swallowed a small companion in its past.

Sources: Wikipedia.

Starbase image set "NGC 1313 - Lum (2021): Topsy Turvy Galaxy" has over 8 hours of Luminance image data and set "NGC 1313 - RGB (2021): Topsy Turvy Galaxy" consists of over 7 hours of Red, Green, and Blue image data.

Image Set Rates:
  • NGC1313 - Lum (2021): Topsy Turvy Galaxy are only $20.00 USD Education and $25.00 USD Standard.

  • NGC1313 - RGB (2021): Topsy Turvy Galaxy are only $18.40 USD Education and $23.00 USD Standard.





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Friday, April 2, 2021

Deep-Sky Targets for New Moon - April 2021

The New Moon is fast approaching! Here are some deep-sky target suggestions for imaging on the Astronomical Telescopes for Educational Outreach (ATEO) remote telescope locations by Insight Observatory's partner, Telescopius.com...

M4 - Globular Cluster

M4 - Globular Cluster
Constellation Scorpius
Mag.: 5.40 - Size: 36'
RA 16hr 23' 35" DEC -27º 28' 30"
ATEO-3 - Deep Sky Chile - altitude 87.1º at 05:29 hrs
Tr 16 - Open cluster

Tr 16 - Open Cluster
Constellation Carina
Mag.: 5.00 – Size: 10'
RA 10hr 45' 06" DEC -60º 16' 59"
ATEO-3 - Deep Sky Chile - altitude 87.1º at 05:29 hrs
M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy

M101 - Pinwheel Galaxy
Constellation Ursa Major
Mag.: 7.90 – Size: 28.8'
RA 14hr 03' 12" DEC 54º 20' 58"
ATEO-1 - SkyPi Remote Observatory - altitude 70.0º at 02:34 hrs.
M67 - Open Cluster

M67 - Open Cluster
Constellation Cancer
Mag.: 6.90 – Size: 25'
RA 08hr 51' 17" DEC 11º 48' 59"
ATEO-2A - SkyPi Remote Observatory - altitude 67.5º at 21:22 hrs.
M8 - Lagoon Nebula

M8 - Lagoon Nebula
Constellation Sagittarius
Mag.: 5.00 – Size: 45'
RA 18hr 03' 41" DEC -25º 37' 00"
ATEO-3 - Deep Sky Chile - altitude 84.9º at 07:09 hrs.
M3 - Globular Cluster

M3 - Globular Cluster
Constellation Canes Venatici
Mag.: 6.30 – Size: 18'
RA 13hr 42' 11" DEC 28º 22' 34"
ATEO-1 - SkyPi Remote Observatory - altitude 84.1º at 02:13 hrs.
IC 2948 - Bright Nebula

IC 2948 - Bright Nebula
Constellation Centaurus
Mag.: 7.00 – Size: 1.3º
RA 11hr 39' 24" DEC -64º 31' 59"
ATEO-3 - Deep Sky Chile - altitude 56.0º at 00:45 hrs.
HCG 44 - Galaxy Cluster

HCG 44 - Galaxy Cluster
Constellation Leo
Mag.: 10.00 – Size: 16.4'
RA 10hr 18' 00" DEC 21º 48' 43"
ATEO-1 - SkyPi Remote Observatory - altitude 77.5º at 22:49 hrs.
NGC 3324 - Gabriela Mistral Nebula

NGC 3324 - Gabriela Mistral Nebula
Constellation Carina
Mag.: 6.70 – Size: 16'
RA 10hr 37' 18" DEC -59º 19' 59"
ATEO-3 - Deep Sky Chile - altitude 60.8º at 23:43 hrs.
NGC 5033 - Spiral Galaxy

NGC 5033 - Spiral Galaxy
Constellation Canes Venatici
Mag.: 10.20 – Size: 10.7'
RA 13hr 13' 27" DEC 36º 35' 36"
ATEO-1 - SkyPi Remote Observatory - altitude 87.7º at 01:44 hrs

Help support Insight Observatory's educational outreach efforts by submitting your deep-sky image requests today on our Personal Image Request (PIR) application or login into your ATEO Portal account to request on our Basic or Advanced Image Request forms.
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