A Dusty Cosmic Island
23 June 2014

Fig. 1
NGC 1316 is a giant elliptical galaxy, characterized by large dark clouds of cosmic dust that resemble dust bunnies. Fig. 1 is an exquisite image of NGC 136, acquired by NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope (HST), a sophisticated astronomical observatory in low Earth orbit. It reveals in impressive detail the “dust bunnies” and clusters of old reddish stars.

These clouds and clusters indicate that NGC 1316 was formed a few billion years ago, when two gas-rich spiral galaxies collided, and then merged, ultimately making a single huge galaxy.

NGC 1316 is not solitary in space. It is a member of a cluster of galaxies, lying about 75 million light-years away from Earth. It is one of the brightest elliptical galaxies in its cluster, known as the Fornax Cluster, since it is visible in the sky among the stars of the constellation Fornax, The Furnace. Interestingly, NGC 1316 is also a strong source of radio waves. Actually, it is one of the strongest radio sources in the sky.

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Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist

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