Thursday, May 23, 2024

Spiral Galaxy NGC 6744: Wide-field View | Euclid Space Telescope

Spiral Galaxy NGC 6744: Wide-field View | Euclid Space Telescope

Here, the European Space Agency's Euclid space telescope captures NGC 6744, one of the largest spiral galaxies beyond our local patch of space. It is a typical example of the type of galaxy currently forming most of the stars in the nearby Universe, making it a wonderful archetype to study with Euclid.

Euclid’s large field-of-view covers the entire galaxy, revealing not only spiral structures on larger scales but also capturing exquisite detail on small spatial scales, and at a combination of wavelengths. This detail includes feather-like lanes of dust emerging as ‘spurs’ from the spiral arms.

Euclid’s observations will allow scientists to count individual stars within NGC 6744 and to also trace the wider distribution of stars and dust in the galaxy, as well as mapping the dust associated with the gas that fuels new star formation. Forming stars is the main way galaxies grow and evolve, so these investigations are central to understanding galactic evolution—and why our Universe looks the way it does today.

Euclid scientists are using this dataset to understand how dust and gas are linked to star formation; map how different stellar populations are distributed throughout galaxies and where stars are currently forming; and unravel the physics behind the structure of spiral galaxies, something that is still not fully understood after decades of study. Spiral structure is important in galaxies, as spiral arms move and compress gas to foster star formation (most occurs along these arms). However, the exact role of spirals in coordinating ongoing star formation remains unclear. As the aforementioned ‘spurs’ along NGC 6744’s arms are only able to form in a strong enough spiral, these features therefore provide important clues as to why galaxies look and behave as they do.

The dataset will also allow scientists to identify clusters of old stars (globular clusters) and hunt for new dwarf galaxies around NGC 6744. In fact, Euclid has already found a new dwarf ‘satellite galaxy’ of NGC 6744—a surprise given that this galaxy has been intensively studied in the past.

Image Description: A spiral galaxy against a dark background speckled with bright dots. The clockwise spiral has many arms, not fully distinguishable from one another, extending out from a bright central spot. There is a thin cloudy structure right above the galaxy, in the outskirts of its furthest reaching arm. In the bottom left of the image, two bright dots are surrounded by a halo of light.

Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA 

Image Processing: J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi

Release Date: May 23, 2024

#NASA #ESA #ESAEuclid #Astronomy #Space #Science #Galaxy #NGC6744 #SpiralGalaxy #Pavo #Constellation #Cosmos #Universe #EST #EuclidSpaceTelescope #Infrared #SpaceTelescope #Europe #STEM #Education

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