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NGC 2442, a barred spiral galaxy in Volans

Date created: 1995-04-07

Tags: galaxy, spiral

This unusual barred spiral galaxy is in the far southern constellation of Volans and was discovered by Sir John Herschel who described one of its spiral arms as hook-like. Although not seen here, (but evident on very deep images) NGC 2442 appears to have a less massive, distant companion that is also distorted, and it seems likely that the two have had a close encounter in the recent past. If there are no further meetings, the forces that hold NGC 2442 together will restore galaxy to a more symmetrical spiral form. However, much more likely is that the companion has been captured by the distorted spiral and will eventually be devoured by it, triggering a dramatic bout of star formation. NGC 2442 is about 50 million light years distant.

Photograph made from plates taken in February, 1994 (G, R) and February, 1995 (B).
Top left is NE. Image width is about 9 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory