The Cosmic Jewels of Sextans A

This glittering image captured by the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, shows the irregular dwarf galaxy Sextans A, which lies around 4.4 million light-years from Earth. This galaxy, which is only a fraction of the size of the Milky Way, has been contorted by successive waves of supernova explosions into the roughly square shape we see from Earth — a cosmic jewelry box filled with bright young stars.

Sextans A is displayed in style in this gorgeous image, which showcases the irregular shape of this dwarf galaxy. Irregular galaxies such as Sextans A don’t have the regular appearance of spiral or elliptical galaxies, but instead display a range of weird and wonderful shapes. These galaxies are relatively small, and they are often susceptible to distortions resulting from close encounters or collisions with larger galaxies — sometimes leading to their irregular shapes. Sextans A is particularly small, measuring only about 5000 light-years across.

Also watch this video for more insights about the image.

Credit:

KPNO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA
Data obtained and processed by: P. Massey (Lowell Obs.), G. Jacoby, K. Olsen, & C. Smith (AURA/NSF)
Image processing: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab) & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)

About the Image

Id:iotw2126a
Type:Observation
Release date:June 30, 2021, noon
Size:3425 x 1964 px

About the Object

Name:Sextans A
Constellation:Sextans
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.5 MB
Screensize JPEG
226.5 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
336.1 KB
1280x1024
535.0 KB
1600x1200
746.9 KB
1920x1200
856.0 KB
2048x1536
1.2 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):10 10 59.99
Position (Dec):-4° 42' 0.19"
Field of view:15.42 x 8.84 arcminutes
Orientation:North is -0.0° left of vertical


Colors & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
U
355 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
B
438 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
OIII
502 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
V
538 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
R
651 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
I
820 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
H-alpha
657 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I
Optical
SII
673 nmNicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope
Mosaic I