The loneliest firework display

Roughly 50 million light-years away lies a somewhat overlooked little galaxy named NGC 1559. Pictured here by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, this barred spiral lies in the little-observed southern constellation of Reticulum (The Reticule).

NGC 1559 has massive spiral arms chock-full of star formation, and is receding from us at a speed of about 1300 km/s. The galaxy contains the mass of around ten billion Suns — while this may sound like a lot, that is almost 100 times less massive than the Milky Way. Although NGC 1559 appears to sit near one of our nearest neighbours in the sky — the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), this is just a trick of perspective. In reality, NGC 1559 is physically nowhere near the LMC in space — in fact, it truly is a loner, lacking the company of any nearby galaxies or membership of any galaxy cluster.

Despite its lack of cosmic companions, when this lonely galaxy has a telescope pointed in its direction, it puts on quite a show! NGC 1559 has hosted a variety of spectacular exploding stars called supernovae, four of which we have observed — in 1984, 1986, 2005, and 2009 (SN 1984J, 1986L, 2005df [a Type Ia], and 2009ib [a Type II-P, with an unusually long plateau]).

NGC 1559 may be alone in space, but we are watching and admiring from far away.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

About the Image

Id:potw1806a
Type:Observation
Release date:5 February 2018, 06:00
Size:3521 x 3449 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 1559
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Local Universe : Galaxy : Activity : AGN : Seyfert
Distance:50 million light years
Constellation:Reticulum
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
6.3 MB
Screensize JPEG
383.4 KB

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428.0 KB
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1.9 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):4 17 37.33
Position (Dec):-62° 47' 4.65"
Field of view:2.33 x 2.28 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 72.6° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
U
336 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
606 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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