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NGC 908, spiral galaxy in Cetus

Tags: galaxy, spiral

NGC 908 is a starburst galaxy in Cetus, one that is undergoing a period of intense star formation. This is why it has numerous clumps of bright stars in its spiral arms and appears so bright on our photograph. It is also asymmetrical, with a peculiar split in the spiral arm on the left (eastern) side of the galaxy. Both these characteristics usually mean the galaxy has been disturbed by some massive intruder, usually another galaxy, but none is evident on the photograph or in the wider field around NGC 908.

This does not mean there is no other galaxy involved. NGC 908 may have been disturbed by a galaxy that is massive but faint, or the intruder may have been destroyed or absorbed in the encounter. It may also be hidden by being in the line of sight, behind the galaxy. It is quite possible that (for example) someone looking at the Milky Way from the Andromeda galaxy would not be able to see either of the Magellanic Clouds which are prominent companions of our galaxy.

Made from "MITLL2" CCD RGB data obtained by Steve Lee and David Malin in December 1998
Top left is NE. Image width is about 7 arc min.

© Australian Astronomical Observatory