A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass. Galaxies are categorized according to their visual morphology as spiral, or irregular. Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their centers; the Milky Way's central black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, has a mass four million times greater than the Sun. As of March 2016, GN-z11 is the oldest and most distant observed galaxy with a comoving distance of 32 billion light-years from Earth, observed as it existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang. Research released in 2016 revised the number of galaxies in the observable universe from a previous estimate of 200 billion to a suggested 2 trillion or more, containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.
Most of the galaxies are 1,000 to 100,000 parsecs in diameter and separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs. For comparison, the Milky Way has a diameter of at least 30,000 parsecs and is separated from the Andromeda Galaxy, its nearest large neighbor, by 780,000 parsecs; the space between galaxies is filled with a tenuous gas having an average density of less than one atom per cubic meter. The majority of galaxies are gravitationally organized into groups and superclusters; the Milky Way is part of the Local Group, dominated by it and the Andromeda Galaxy and is part of the Virgo Supercluster. At the largest scale, these associations are arranged into sheets and filaments surrounded by immense voids; the largest structure of galaxies yet recognised is a cluster of superclusters, named Laniakea, which contains the Virgo supercluster. The origin of the word galaxy derives from the Greek term for the Milky Way, galaxias, or kyklos galaktikos due to its appearance as a "milky" band of light in the sky.
In Greek mythology, Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman, the infant Heracles, on Hera's breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and realizes she is nursing an unknown baby: she pushes the baby away, some of her milk spills, it produces the faint band of light known as the Milky Way. In the astronomical literature, the capitalized word "Galaxy" is used to refer to our galaxy, the Milky Way, to distinguish it from the other galaxies in our universe; the English term Milky Way can be traced back to a story by Chaucer c. 1380: "See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt." Galaxies were discovered telescopically and were known as spiral nebulae. Most 18th to 19th Century astronomers considered them as either unresolved star clusters or anagalactic nebulae, were just thought as a part of the Milky Way, but their true composition and natures remained a mystery. Observations using larger telescopes of a few nearby bright galaxies, like the Andromeda Galaxy, began resolving them into huge conglomerations of stars, but based on the apparent faintness and sheer population of stars, the true distances of these objects placed them well beyond the Milky Way.
For this reason they were popularly called island universes, but this term fell into disuse, as the word universe implied the entirety of existence. Instead, they became known as galaxies. Tens of thousands of galaxies have been catalogued, but only a few have well-established names, such as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds, the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Sombrero Galaxy. Astronomers work with numbers from certain catalogues, such as the Messier catalogue, the NGC, the IC, the CGCG, the MCG and UGC. All of the well-known galaxies appear in one or more of these catalogues but each time under a different number. For example, Messier 109 is a spiral galaxy having the number 109 in the catalogue of Messier, having the designations NGC 3992, UGC 6937, CGCG 269-023, MCG +09-20-044, PGC 37617; the realization that we live in a galaxy, one among many galaxies, parallels major discoveries that were made about the Milky Way and other nebulae. The Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that the bright band on the night sky known as the Milky Way might consist of distant stars.
Aristotle, believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars that were large and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere, in the region of the World, continuous with the heavenly motions." The Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger was critical of this view, arguing that if the Milky Way is sublunary it should appear different at different times and places on Earth, that it should have parallax, which it does not. In his view, the Milky Way is celestial. According to Mohani Mohamed, the Arabian astronomer Alhazen made the first attempt at observing and measuring the Milky Way's parallax, he thus "determined that because the Milky Way had no parallax, it must be remote from the Earth, not belonging to the atmosphere." The Persian astronomer al-Bīrūnī
Andromeda I is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy about 2.40 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. Andromeda I is part of a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda Galaxy, it is 3.5 degrees south and east of M31. As of 2005, it is the closest known dSph companion to M31 at an estimated projected distance of ~40 kpc or ~150,000 light-years. Andromeda I was discovered by Sidney van den Bergh in 1970 with the Mount Palomar Observatory 48-inch telescope. Further study of Andromeda I was done by the WFPC2 camera of the Hubble Space Telescope; this found that the horizontal branch stars, like other dwarf spheroidal galaxies were predominantly red. From this, the abundance of blue horizontal branch stars, along with 99 RR Lyrae stars detected in 2005, lead to the conclusion there was an extended epoch of star formation; the estimated age is 10 Gyr. The Hubble telescope found a globular cluster in Andromeda I, being the least luminous galaxy where such a cluster was found. Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda's satellite galaxies Andromeda I on WikiSky: DSS2, SDSS, GALEX, IRAS, Hydrogen α, X-Ray, Sky Map and images
M31-RV is a red variable star located in the Andromeda Galaxy that experienced an outburst in 1988, similar to the outburst V838 Monocerotis experienced in 2002. Such objects have been called intermediate-luminosity red transients. During the outburst, both V838 Mon and M31-RV reached a maximum absolute visual magnitude of -9.8. In 2006, the area around M31-RV was observed using the Hubble Space Telescope, but only red giants were seen, it is thought that the star either became too dim for Hubble to see, or the star is a companion of one of the red giants, or the star is one of the red giants themselves. M31-RV reached a peak visual magnitude of 17 before fading and showing dust formation; the most explanation states that these outbursts occur during stellar merger events. AE Andromedae
Galaxy morphological classification
Galaxy morphological classification is a system used by astronomers to divide galaxies into groups based on their visual appearance. There are several schemes in use by which galaxies can be classified according to their morphologies, the most famous being the Hubble sequence, devised by Edwin Hubble and expanded by Gérard de Vaucouleurs and Allan Sandage; the Hubble sequence is a morphological classification scheme for galaxies invented by Edwin Hubble in 1926. It is known colloquially as the “Hubble tuning-fork” because of the shape in which it is traditionally represented. Hubble's scheme divides galaxies into three broad classes based on their visual appearance: Elliptical galaxies have smooth, featureless light distributions and appear as ellipses in images, they are denoted by the letter "E", followed by an integer n representing their degree of ellipticity on the sky. Spiral galaxies consist of a flattened disk, with stars forming a spiral structure, a central concentration of stars known as the bulge, similar in appearance to an elliptical galaxy.
They are given the symbol "S". Half of all spirals are observed to have a bar-like structure, extending from the central bulge; these barred spirals are given the symbol "SB". Lenticular galaxies consist of a bright central bulge surrounded by an extended, disk-like structure but, unlike spiral galaxies, the disks of lenticular galaxies have no visible spiral structure and are not forming stars in any significant quantity; these broad classes can be extended to enable finer distinctions of appearance and to encompass other types of galaxies, such as irregular galaxies, which have no obvious regular structure. The Hubble sequence is represented in the form of a two-pronged fork, with the ellipticals on the left and the barred and unbarred spirals forming the two parallel prongs of the fork. Lenticular galaxies are placed between the ellipticals and the spirals, at the point where the two prongs meet the “handle”. To this day, the Hubble sequence is the most used system for classifying galaxies, both in professional astronomical research and in amateur astronomy.
The de Vaucouleurs system for classifying galaxies is a used extension to the Hubble sequence, first described by Gérard de Vaucouleurs in 1959. De Vaucouleurs argued that Hubble's two-dimensional classification of spiral galaxies—based on the tightness of the spiral arms and the presence or absence of a bar—did not adequately describe the full range of observed galaxy morphologies. In particular, he argued that rings and lenses are important structural components of spiral galaxies; the de Vaucouleurs system retains Hubble's basic division of galaxies into ellipticals, lenticulars and irregulars. To complement Hubble's scheme, de Vaucouleurs introduced a more elaborate classification system for spiral galaxies, based on three morphological characteristics: The different elements of the classification scheme are combined — in the order in which they are listed — to give the complete classification of a galaxy. For example, a weakly barred spiral galaxy with loosely wound arms and a ring is denoted SABc.
Visually, the de Vaucouleurs system can be represented as a three-dimensional version of Hubble's tuning fork, with stage on the x-axis, family on the y-axis, variety on the z-axis. De Vaucouleurs assigned numerical values to each class of galaxy in his scheme. Values of the numerical Hubble stage T run from −6 to +10, with negative numbers corresponding to early-type galaxies and positive numbers to late types. Elliptical galaxies are divided into three'stages': compact ellipticals, normal ellipticals and late types. Lenticulars are subdivided into early and late types. Irregular galaxies can be of type magellanic irregulars or'compact'; the use of numerical stages allows for more quantitative studies of galaxy morphology. Created by American astronomer William Wilson Morgan. Together with Philip Keenan, Morgan developed the MK system for the classification of stars through their spectra; the Yerkes scheme uses the spectra of stars in the galaxy. Thus, for example, the Andromeda Galaxy is classified as kS5.
Morphological Catalogue of Galaxies Galaxy color–magnitude diagram Galaxy Zoo William Wilson Morgan Fritz Zwicky Galaxies and the Universe - an introduction to galaxy classification Near-Infrared Galaxy Morphology Atlas, T. H. Jarrett The Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey Hubble Tuning-Fork, SINGS Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy Science Project Go to GalaxyZoo.org to try your hand at classifying galaxies as part of an Oxford University open community project
The Cassiopeia Dwarf is a dwarf spheroidal galaxy about 2.58 Mly away in the constellation Cassiopeia. The Cassiopeia Dwarf is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda Galaxy; the Cassiopeia Dwarf was found in 1998, together with the Pegasus Dwarf, by a team of astronomers in Russia and Ukraine. The Cassiopeia Dwarf and the Pegasus Dwarf are farther from M31 than its other known companion galaxies, yet still appear bound to it by gravity. Neither galaxy shows traces of recent star formation. Instead, both seem dominated by old stars, with ages of up to 10 billion years. Andromeda's satellite galaxies SEDS: Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy Andromeda VII The Cassiopeia Dwarf on WikiSky: DSS2, SDSS, GALEX, IRAS, Hydrogen α, X-Ray, Sky Map and images
Orders of magnitude (length)
The following are examples of orders of magnitude for different lengths. To help compare different orders of magnitude, the following list describes various lengths between 1.6 × 10 − 35 metres and 10 10 10 122 metres. To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths shorter than 10−23 m. 1.6 × 10−11 yoctometres – the Planck length. 1 ym – 1 yoctometre, the smallest named subdivision of the metre in the SI base unit of length, one septillionth of a metre 1 ym – length of a neutrino. 2 ym – the effective cross-section radius of 1 MeV neutrinos as measured by Clyde Cowan and Frederick Reines To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−23 metres and 10−22 metres. To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−22 m and 10−21 m. 100 ym – length of a top quark, one of the smallest known quarks To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−21 m and 10−20 m. 2 zm – length of a preon, hypothetical particles proposed as subcomponents of quarks and leptons.
2 zm – radius of effective cross section for a 20 GeV neutrino scattering off a nucleon 7 zm – radius of effective cross section for a 250 GeV neutrino scattering off a nucleon To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−20 m and 10−19 m. 15 zm – length of a high energy neutrino 30 zm – length of a bottom quark To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−19 m and 10−18 m. 177 zm – de Broglie wavelength of protons at the Large Hadron Collider To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−18 m and 10−17 m. 1 am – sensitivity of the LIGO detector for gravitational waves 1 am – upper limit for the size of quarks and electrons 1 am – upper bound of the typical size range for "fundamental strings" 1 am – length of an electron 1 am – length of an up quark 1 am – length of a down quark To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−17 m and 10−16 m. 10 am – range of the weak force To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−16 m and 10−15 m. 100 am – all lengths shorter than this distance are not confirmed in terms of size 850 am – approximate proton radius The femtometre is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to 10−15 metres.
In particle physics, this unit is more called a fermi with abbreviation "fm". To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−15 metres and 10−14 metres. 1 fm – length of a neutron 1.5 fm – diameter of the scattering cross section of an 11 MeV proton with a target proton 1.75 fm – the effective charge diameter of a proton 2.81794 fm – classical electron radius 7 fm – the radius of the effective scattering cross section for a gold nucleus scattering a 6 MeV alpha particle over 140 degrees To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−14 m and 10−13 m. 1.75 to 15 fm – Diameter range of the atomic nucleus To help compare different orders of magnitude, this section lists lengths between 10−13 m and 10−12 m. 570 fm – typical distance from the atomic nucleus of the two innermost electrons in the uranium atom, the heaviest naturally-occurring atom To help compare different orders of magnitude this section lists lengths between 10−12 and 10−11 m. 1 pm – distance between atomic nuclei in a white dwarf 2.4 pm – The Compton wavelength of the electron 5 pm – shorter X-ray wavelengths To help compare different orders of magnitude this section lists lengths between 10−11 and 10−10 m. 25 pm – approximate radius of a helium atom, the smallest neutral atom 50 pm – radius of a hydrogen atom 50 pm – bohr radius: approximate radius of a hydrogen atom ~50 pm – best resolution of a high-resolution transmission electron microscope 60 pm – radius of a carbon atom 93 pm – length of a diatomic carbon molecule To help compare different orders of magnitude this section lists lengths between 10−10 and 10−9 m. 100 pm – 1 ångström 100 pm – covalent radius of sulfur atom 120 pm – van der Waals radius of a neutral hydrogen atom 120 pm – radius of a gold atom 126 pm – covalent radius of ruthenium atom 135 pm – covalent radius of technetium atom 150 pm – Length of a typical covalent bond 153 pm – covalent radius of silver atom 155 pm – covalent radius of zirconium atom 175 pm – covalent radius of thulium atom 200 pm – highest resolution of a typical electron microscope 225 pm – covalent radius of caesium atom 280 pm – Average size of the water molecule 298 pm – radius of a caesium atom, calculated to be the largest atomic radius 340 pm – thickness of single layer graphene 356.68 pm – width of diamond unit cell 403 pm – width of lithium fluoride unit cell 500 pm – Width of protein α helix 543 pm – silicon lattice spacing 560 pm – width of sodium chloride unit cell 700 pm – width of glucose molecule 780 pm – mean width of quartz unit cell 820 pm – mean width of ice unit cell 900 pm – mean width of coesite unit cell To help compare different orders
The Andromeda Galaxy known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, is a spiral galaxy 780 kiloparsecs from Earth, the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. Its name stems from the area of the Earth's sky; the virial mass of the Andromeda Galaxy is of the same order of magnitude as that of the Milky Way, at a trillion solar masses. The mass of either galaxy is difficult to estimate with any accuracy, but it was long thought that the Andromeda Galaxy is more massive than the Milky Way by a margin of some 25% to 50%; this has been called into question by a 2018 study which cited a lower estimate on the mass of the Andromeda Galaxy, combined with preliminary reports on a 2019 study estimating a higher mass of the Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy has a diameter of about 220,000 light-years, making it the largest member of the Local Group at least in terms of extension, if not mass; the number of stars contained in the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated at one trillion, or twice the number estimated for the Milky Way.
The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in ~4.5 billion years, merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy or a large disc galaxy. With an apparent magnitude of 3.4, the Andromeda Galaxy is among the brightest of the Messier objects making it visible to the naked eye from Earth on moonless nights when viewed from areas with moderate light pollution. Around the year 964, the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi described the Andromeda Galaxy, in his Book of Fixed Stars as a "nebulous smear". Star charts of that period labeled it as the Little Cloud. In 1612, the German astronomer Simon Marius gave an early description of the Andromeda Galaxy based on telescopic observations; the German philosopher Immanuel Kant in 1755 in his work Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens conjectured that the blurry spot was an island universe. In 1764, Charles Messier cataloged Andromeda as object M31 and incorrectly credited Marius as the discoverer despite it being visible to the naked eye.
In 1785, the astronomer William Herschel noted a faint reddish hue in the core region of Andromeda. He believed Andromeda to be the nearest of all the "great nebulae", based on the color and magnitude of the nebula, he incorrectly guessed that it is no more than 2,000 times the distance of Sirius. In 1850, William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse and made the first drawing of Andromeda's spiral structure. In 1864, William Huggins noted; the spectra of Andromeda displays a continuum of frequencies, superimposed with dark absorption lines that help identify the chemical composition of an object. Andromeda's spectrum is similar to the spectra of individual stars, from this, it was deduced that Andromeda has a stellar nature. In 1885, a supernova was seen in the first and so far only one observed in that galaxy. At the time Andromeda was considered to be a nearby object, so the cause was thought to be a much less luminous and unrelated event called a nova, was named accordingly. In 1887, Isaac Roberts took the first photographs of Andromeda, still thought to be a nebula within our galaxy.
Roberts mistook Andromeda and similar spiral nebulae as solar systems being formed. In 1912, Vesto Slipher used spectroscopy to measure the radial velocity of Andromeda with respect to our Solar System—the largest velocity yet measured, at 300 kilometres per second. In 1917, Heber Curtis observed a nova within Andromeda. Searching the photographic record, 11 more novae were discovered. Curtis noticed that these novae were, on average, 10 magnitudes fainter than those that occurred elsewhere in the sky; as a result, he was able to come up with a distance estimate of 500,000 light-years. He became a proponent of the so-called "island universes" hypothesis, which held that spiral nebulae were independent galaxies. In 1920, the Great Debate between Harlow Shapley and Curtis took place concerning the nature of the Milky Way, spiral nebulae, the dimensions of the Universe. To support his claim of the Great Andromeda Nebula being, in fact, an external galaxy, Curtis noted the appearance of dark lanes within Andromeda which resembled the dust clouds in our own galaxy, as well as historical observations of Andromeda Galaxy's significant Doppler shift.
In 1922 Ernst Öpik presented a method to estimate the distance of Andromeda using the measured velocities of its stars. His result placed the Andromeda Nebula far outside our galaxy at a distance of about 450,000 parsecs. Edwin Hubble settled the debate in 1925 when he identified extragalactic Cepheid variable stars for the first time on astronomical photos of Andromeda; these were made using the 2.5-metre Hooker telescope, they enabled the distance of Great Andromeda Nebula to be determined. His measurement demonstrated conclusively that this feature was not a cluster of stars and gas within our own galaxy, but an separate galaxy located a significant distance from the Milky Way. In 1943, Walter Baade was the first person to resolve stars in the central region of the Andromeda Galaxy. Baade identified two distinct populations of stars based on their metallicity, naming the young, high-velocity stars in the disk Type I and the older, red stars in the bulge Type II; this nomenclature was subsequently adopted for stars within the Milky Way, elsewhere.
Baade discovered that there were two types of Cepheid variables, which resulted in a doubling of the distance estimate to Andromeda, as well as the remainder o