​IMAGE GALLERY


March has been another tough month for astro-imaging. I got only one image in for the month. This is NGC 3628 otherwise known as the "Hamburger Galaxy." This image was cropped and enlarged so the resolution is not as good as the full picture. This was the only way I could showcase the "frayed" edges that are unique to this galaxy. The dark lane you see bisecting NGC 3628's length is composed of dust and gas that has accumulated along the galaxy's plane of rotation. Normally this dust lane would taper off toward the edges of the galactic disk, however this one splays out as if something is tugging on the edges trying to pull them apart.
Here is a larger field of view from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day APOD.  NGC 3628 is near top center, M 66 is lower center, and M 65 is lower right center. These three galaxies are within a million light years of each other, but all of them are 35 million light years from Earth. When galaxies get this close to each other, their enormous gravity wells begin to distort their structures. All these galaxies are distorted by gravitational interaction with each other but NGC 3628 and M 66 look more misshapen than M 66. It's possible that two or more of these galaxies will eventually merge together into one big mega-galaxy.