Enthralling Galaxy in the Cetus Constellation: An Evolving Symphony of Stellar Activity Over Time

by Klaus Müller
NGC 1087

NGC 1087, situated 80 million light-years away in the Cetus constellation, is a notable assembly of both ancient and recently formed stars. Originally identified in 1785, this galaxy garnered attention for a supernova occurrence in 1995. Contemporary imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope offers new perspectives on the continuous process of star birth and the interaction between stellar objects and molecular gas. Credit: Hubble Space Telescope by NASA, ESA, R. Chandar (University of Toledo), and J. Lee (Space Telescope Science Institute); Image Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

Stars of varying ages shimmer in the dust-laden spiral arms of NGC 1087, as captured in this striking visual by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Located in the Cetus constellation at a distance of 80 million light-years, NGC 1087 is classified as a barred spiral galaxy. It boasts a diameter of 87,000 light-years and a comparatively small galactic nucleus. The dark red lanes of dust prominently outline its spiral features.

The luminous, elongated structure at the center of NGC 1087—known as the galaxy’s stellar bar—is noticeably shorter than those in other barred galaxies. Generally, in such galaxies, the gravitational pull from the core attracts substantial amounts of gas, leading to a period of intense star formation followed by a gradual decrease. NGC 1087 stands out for exhibiting ongoing star formation, rendering it particularly intriguing for researchers.

Historical Documentation of NGC 1087

The British astronomer William Herschel was the first to catalogue NGC 1087 in the year 1785. Positioned just south of the celestial equator, the galaxy is observable from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In the year 1995, a Type II supernova was detected within NGC 1087. Such supernovae manifest when a massive star exhausts its nuclear fuel, resulting in the collapse and subsequent explosion of its iron core. Designated as 1995V, it remains the sole supernova ever recorded in this galaxy.

Insightful Observations Through Hubble

In this latest composite image captured in ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the dark red bands represent cold molecular gas—the foundational substance for star formation. Bright pink areas indicate zones of nascent star creation, distinguished by the presence of ionized hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur elements. The areas exhibiting a blue hue contain hot, youthful stars that were formed earlier in the galaxy’s history. The observations made by Hubble focus on understanding the relationship between new stars and cold gas, specifically to ascertain the fate of gaseous regions post-star formation within them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NGC 1087

What is the primary focus of this article?

The primary focus of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of galaxy NGC 1087, discussing its unique features, historical observations, and findings from recent images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

What type of galaxy is NGC 1087?

NGC 1087 is classified as a barred spiral galaxy, situated 80 million light-years away in the Cetus constellation. It has a diameter of 87,000 light-years and a relatively small galactic nucleus.

Who originally discovered NGC 1087 and when?

British astronomer William Herschel originally discovered NGC 1087 in the year 1785.

Has there been any significant event like a supernova in NGC 1087?

Yes, a Type II supernova was detected within NGC 1087 in 1995. This type of supernova occurs when a massive star depletes all of its nuclear fuel, leading to the collapse and explosion of its iron core. The supernova was named 1995V and is the only one of its kind ever recorded in this galaxy.

What does the Hubble Space Telescope’s recent imagery reveal about NGC 1087?

Recent imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope offers insights into ongoing star formation processes in NGC 1087, as well as the interaction between stars and molecular gas. The images capture various stages of star life and aim to understand the connection between young stars and cold gas.

What makes NGC 1087 unique compared to other barred spiral galaxies?

NGC 1087 is unique in its ongoing star formation activity. Unlike other barred spiral galaxies where star formation typically bursts and then decays, NGC 1087 shows signs of continuous star birth, making it especially interesting for scientific research.

What wavelengths were used by the Hubble Space Telescope to observe NGC 1087?

The Hubble Space Telescope captured images of NGC 1087 using ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths. These varied wavelengths help to study different aspects of the galaxy, including cold molecular gas and areas of new star formation.

More about NGC 1087

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John Doe October 9, 2023 - 1:19 am

Wow, never knew NGC 1087 was this fascinating! Always assumed galaxies were kinda the same, you know. Science rocks!

Mike O'Brien October 9, 2023 - 7:45 am

So wait, we can see 80 million light years away? That’s crazy. How do they even capture images like this?

Lisa Brown October 9, 2023 - 10:17 am

Hubble’s still at it, huh. amazing how it keeps giving us these groundbreaking pics and data.

Rachel Adams October 9, 2023 - 1:57 pm

I remember 1995V. Followed it back then. Didn’t know it was the only supernova in that galaxy tho. Interesting.

Tim Johnson October 9, 2023 - 5:51 pm

Just wondering, is it possible to visit galaxies like these in the future? What are we waiting for, let’s go!

Alex Chen October 9, 2023 - 7:08 pm

So this galaxy has new and old stars? That’s like a cosmic retirement home mixed with a kindergarten!

Emily Smith October 9, 2023 - 8:01 pm

This is truly mind-blowing stuff. Makes you think how tiny we are in this vast universe. And kudos to Hubble for these insights.

Sarah Williams October 9, 2023 - 9:29 pm

Reading this, I just realized how much I dont know about the universe. It’s a whole new level of awesome!


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