Sunday, 16 October 2016

NGC1532 'Woomera'


Most galaxies are ‘poker-faced’ – giving little away: featureless ovals with faint nuclei; but some offer a glimpse of a more dramatic existence –when galaxies collide.  One such is N1532 (Dunlop 600) in the constellation of Eridanus, the River.
On first impression this is a big edge-on spiral with, seemingly, two nuclei! Higher power shows a small bright elliptical ‘object’ almost in contact with the edge-on’s nucleus. Are these interacting galaxies? References suggest they are: although there is no extended disc to be seen around the small galaxy, NGC1531. The common name for this galaxy pair is ‘Woomera’, the long thin Aboriginal spear-thrower.
In fact, this object seems to still have the ‘spear’ attached! Repeat viewings showed a thin strand of galaxy ‘arm’- aimed at a nearby field star. The whole scene was much like a ‘Mimi’ art figure from Arnhem Land in Australia’s north (Fig). 

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