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 apparent magnitude of an astronomical object is a number, a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth. The magnitude scale is logarithmic. A difference of 1 in magnitude corresponds to a change in brightness by a factor of 5√100, or about 2.512. The brighter an object appears, the lower its magnitude value, with the brightest astronomical objects having negative apparent magnitudes: for example Sirius at −1.46. The measurement of apparent magnitudes or brightnesses of celestial objects is known as photometry. Apparent magnitudes are used to quantify the brightness of sources at ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. An apparent magnitude is measured in a specific passband corresponding to some photometric system such as the UBV system. In standard astronomical notation, an apparent magnitude in the V filter band would be denoted either as mV or simply as V, as in "mV = 15" or "V = 15" to describe a 15th-magnitude object; the scale used to indicate magnitude originates in the Hellenistic practice of dividing stars visible to the naked eye into six magnitudes.
The brightest stars in the night sky were said to be of first magnitude, whereas the faintest were of sixth magnitude, the limit of human visual perception. Each grade of magnitude was considered twice the brightness of the following grade, although that ratio was subjective as no photodetectors existed; this rather crude scale for the brightness of stars was popularized by Ptolemy in his Almagest and is believed to have originated with Hipparchus. In 1856, Norman Robert Pogson formalized the system by defining a first magnitude star as a star, 100 times as bright as a sixth-magnitude star, thereby establishing the logarithmic scale still in use today; this implies that a star of magnitude m is about 2.512 times as bright as a star of magnitude m + 1. This figure, the fifth root of 100, became known as Pogson's Ratio; the zero point of Pogson's scale was defined by assigning Polaris a magnitude of 2. Astronomers discovered that Polaris is variable, so they switched to Vega as the standard reference star, assigning the brightness of Vega as the definition of zero magnitude at any specified wavelength.
Apart from small corrections, the brightness of Vega still serves as the definition of zero magnitude for visible and near infrared wavelengths, where its spectral energy distribution approximates that of a black body for a temperature of 11000 K. However, with the advent of infrared astronomy it was revealed that Vega's radiation includes an Infrared excess due to a circumstellar disk consisting of dust at warm temperatures. At shorter wavelengths, there is negligible emission from dust at these temperatures. However, in order to properly extend the magnitude scale further into the infrared, this peculiarity of Vega should not affect the definition of the magnitude scale. Therefore, the magnitude scale was extrapolated to all wavelengths on the basis of the black-body radiation curve for an ideal stellar surface at 11000 K uncontaminated by circumstellar radiation. On this basis the spectral irradiance for the zero magnitude point, as a function of wavelength, can be computed. Small deviations are specified between systems using measurement apparatuses developed independently so that data obtained by different astronomers can be properly compared, but of greater practical importance is the definition of magnitude not at a single wavelength but applying to the response of standard spectral filters used in photometry over various wavelength bands.
With the modern magnitude systems, brightness over a wide range is specified according to the logarithmic definition detailed below, using this zero reference. In practice such apparent magnitudes do not exceed 30; the brightness of Vega is exceeded by four stars in the night sky at visible wavelengths as well as the bright planets Venus and Jupiter, these must be described by negative magnitudes. For example, the brightest star of the celestial sphere, has an apparent magnitude of −1.4 in the visible. Negative magnitudes for other bright astronomical objects can be found in the table below. Astronomers have developed other photometric zeropoint systems as alternatives to the Vega system; the most used is the AB magnitude system, in which photometric zeropoints are based on a hypothetical reference spectrum having constant flux per unit frequency interval, rather than using a stellar spectrum or blackbody curve as the reference. The AB magnitude zeropoint is defined such that an object's AB and Vega-based magnitudes will be equal in the V filter band.
As the amount of light received by a telescope is reduced by transmission through the Earth's atmosphere, any measurement of apparent magnitude is corrected for what it would have been as seen from above the atmosphere. The dimmer an object appears, the higher the numerical value given to its apparent magnitude, with a difference of 5 magnitudes corresponding to a brightness factor of 100. Therefore, the apparent magnitude m, in the spectral band x, would be given by m x = − 5 log 100 , more expressed in terms of common logarithms as m x
Interacting galaxies are galaxies whose gravitational fields result in a disturbance of one another. An example of a minor interaction is a satellite galaxy's disturbing the primary galaxy's spiral arms. An example of a major interaction is a galactic collision. A giant galaxy interacting with its satellites is common. A satellite's gravity could attract one of the primary's spiral arms, or the secondary satellite's path could coincide with the position of the primary satellite's and so would dive into the primary galaxy; that can trigger a small amount of star formation. Such orphaned clusters of stars were sometimes referred to as "blue blobs" before they were recognized as stars. Colliding galaxies are common during galaxy evolution; the tenuous distribution of matter in galaxies means these are not collisions in the traditional sense of the word, but rather gravitational interactions. Colliding may lead to merging if two galaxies collide and do not have enough momentum to continue traveling after the collision.
In that case, they fall back into each other and merge into one galaxy after many passes through each other. If one of the colliding galaxies is much larger than the other, it will remain intact after the merger; the larger galaxy will look much the same, while the smaller galaxy will be stripped apart and become part of the larger galaxy. When galaxies pass through each other, unlike during mergers, they retain their material and shape after the pass. Galactic collisions are now simulated on computers, which use realistic physics principles, including the simulation of gravitational forces, gas dissipation phenomena, star formation, feedback. Dynamical friction slows the relative motion galaxy pairs, which may merge at some point, according to the initial relative energy of the orbits. A library of simulated galaxy collisions can be found at the Paris Observatory website: GALMER Galactic cannibalism refers to the process in which a large galaxy, through tidal gravitational interactions with a companion, merges with that companion.
The most common result of the gravitational merger between two or more galaxies is an irregular galaxy, but elliptical galaxies may result. It has been suggested that galactic cannibalism is occurring between the Milky Way and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Streams of gravitationally-attracted hydrogen arcing from these dwarf galaxies to the Milky Way is taken as evidence for the theory. Galaxy harassment is a type of interaction between a low-luminosity galaxy and a brighter one that takes place within rich galaxy clusters, such as Virgo and Coma, where galaxies are moving at high relative speeds and suffering frequent encounters with other systems of the cluster by the high galactic density of the latter. According to computer simulations, the interactions convert the affected galaxy disks into disturbed barred spiral galaxies and produces starbursts followed by, if more encounters occur, loss of angular momentum and heating of their gas; the result would be the conversion of low-luminosity spiral galaxies into dwarf spheroidals and dwarf ellipticals.
Evidence for the hypothesis had been claimed by studying early-type dwarf galaxies in the Virgo Cluster and finding structures, such as disks and spiral arms, which suggest they are former disk systems transformed by the above-mentioned interactions. However, the existence of similar structures in isolated early-type dwarf galaxies, such as LEDA 2108986, has undermined this hypothesis Astronomers have estimated the Milky Way galaxy, will collide with the Andromeda galaxy in about 4.5 billion years. It is thought that the two spiral galaxies will merge to become an elliptical galaxy or a large disk galaxy. NGC 7318 Galaxy Collisions Galactic cannibalism Galactic Collision Simulation GALMER: Galaxy Merger Simulations
A star is type of astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many other stars are visible to the naked eye from Earth during the night, appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points in the sky due to their immense distance from Earth; the most prominent stars were grouped into constellations and asterisms, the brightest of which gained proper names. Astronomers have assembled star catalogues that identify the known stars and provide standardized stellar designations. However, most of the estimated 300 sextillion stars in the Universe are invisible to the naked eye from Earth, including all stars outside our galaxy, the Milky Way. For at least a portion of its life, a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and radiates into outer space. All occurring elements heavier than helium are created by stellar nucleosynthesis during the star's lifetime, for some stars by supernova nucleosynthesis when it explodes.
Near the end of its life, a star can contain degenerate matter. Astronomers can determine the mass, age and many other properties of a star by observing its motion through space, its luminosity, spectrum respectively; the total mass of a star is the main factor. Other characteristics of a star, including diameter and temperature, change over its life, while the star's environment affects its rotation and movement. A plot of the temperature of many stars against their luminosities produces a plot known as a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Plotting a particular star on that diagram allows the age and evolutionary state of that star to be determined. A star's life begins with the gravitational collapse of a gaseous nebula of material composed of hydrogen, along with helium and trace amounts of heavier elements; when the stellar core is sufficiently dense, hydrogen becomes converted into helium through nuclear fusion, releasing energy in the process. The remainder of the star's interior carries energy away from the core through a combination of radiative and convective heat transfer processes.
The star's internal pressure prevents it from collapsing further under its own gravity. A star with mass greater than 0.4 times the Sun's will expand to become a red giant when the hydrogen fuel in its core is exhausted. In some cases, it will fuse heavier elements in shells around the core; as the star expands it throws a part of its mass, enriched with those heavier elements, into the interstellar environment, to be recycled as new stars. Meanwhile, the core becomes a stellar remnant: a white dwarf, a neutron star, or if it is sufficiently massive a black hole. Binary and multi-star systems consist of two or more stars that are gravitationally bound and move around each other in stable orbits; when two such stars have a close orbit, their gravitational interaction can have a significant impact on their evolution. Stars can form part of a much larger gravitationally bound structure, such as a star cluster or a galaxy. Stars have been important to civilizations throughout the world, they have used for celestial navigation and orientation.
Many ancient astronomers believed that stars were permanently affixed to a heavenly sphere and that they were immutable. By convention, astronomers grouped stars into constellations and used them to track the motions of the planets and the inferred position of the Sun; the motion of the Sun against the background stars was used to create calendars, which could be used to regulate agricultural practices. The Gregorian calendar used nearly everywhere in the world, is a solar calendar based on the angle of the Earth's rotational axis relative to its local star, the Sun; the oldest dated star chart was the result of ancient Egyptian astronomy in 1534 BC. The earliest known star catalogues were compiled by the ancient Babylonian astronomers of Mesopotamia in the late 2nd millennium BC, during the Kassite Period; the first star catalogue in Greek astronomy was created by Aristillus in 300 BC, with the help of Timocharis. The star catalog of Hipparchus included 1020 stars, was used to assemble Ptolemy's star catalogue.
Hipparchus is known for the discovery of the first recorded nova. Many of the constellations and star names in use today derive from Greek astronomy. In spite of the apparent immutability of the heavens, Chinese astronomers were aware that new stars could appear. In 185 AD, they were the first to observe and write about a supernova, now known as the SN 185; the brightest stellar event in recorded history was the SN 1006 supernova, observed in 1006 and written about by the Egyptian astronomer Ali ibn Ridwan and several Chinese astronomers. The SN 1054 supernova, which gave birth to the Crab Nebula, was observed by Chinese and Islamic astronomers. Medieval Islamic astronomers gave Arabic names to many stars that are still used today and they invented numerous astronomical instruments that could compute the positions of the stars, they built the first large observatory research institutes for the purpose of producing Zij star catalogues. Among these, the Book of Fixed Stars was written by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, who observed a number of stars, star clusters and galaxies.
According to A. Zahoor, in the 11th century, the Persian polymath scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni described the Milky
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
A constellation is a group of stars that forms an imaginary outline or pattern on the celestial sphere representing an animal, mythological person or creature, a god, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest constellations go back to prehistory. People used them to relate stories of their beliefs, creation, or mythology. Different cultures and countries adopted their own constellations, some of which lasted into the early 20th century before today's constellations were internationally recognized. Adoption of constellations has changed over time. Many have changed in shape; some became popular. Others were limited to single nations; the 48 traditional Western constellations are Greek. They are given in Aratus' work Phenomena and Ptolemy's Almagest, though their origin predates these works by several centuries. Constellations in the far southern sky were added from the 15th century until the mid-18th century when European explorers began traveling to the Southern Hemisphere. Twelve ancient constellations belong to the zodiac.
The origins of the zodiac remain uncertain. In 1928, the International Astronomical Union formally accepted 88 modern constellations, with contiguous boundaries that together cover the entire celestial sphere. Any given point in a celestial coordinate system lies in one of the modern constellations; some astronomical naming systems include the constellation where a given celestial object is found to convey its approximate location in the sky. The Flamsteed designation of a star, for example, consists of a number and the genitive form of the constellation name. Other star patterns or groups called asterisms are not constellations per se but are used by observers to navigate the night sky. Examples of bright asterisms include the Pleiades and Hyades within the constellation Taurus or Venus' Mirror in the constellation of Orion.. Some asterisms, like the False Cross, are split between two constellations; the word "constellation" comes from the Late Latin term cōnstellātiō, which can be translated as "set of stars".
The Ancient Greek word for constellation is ἄστρον. A more modern astronomical sense of the term "constellation" is as a recognisable pattern of stars whose appearance is associated with mythological characters or creatures, or earthbound animals, or objects, it can specifically denote the recognized 88 named constellations used today. Colloquial usage does not draw a sharp distinction between "constellations" and smaller "asterisms", yet the modern accepted astronomical constellations employ such a distinction. E.g. the Pleiades and the Hyades are both asterisms, each lies within the boundaries of the constellation of Taurus. Another example is the northern asterism known as the Big Dipper or the Plough, composed of the seven brightest stars within the area of the IAU-defined constellation of Ursa Major; the southern False Cross asterism includes portions of the constellations Carina and Vela and the Summer Triangle.. A constellation, viewed from a particular latitude on Earth, that never sets below the horizon is termed circumpolar.
From the North Pole or South Pole, all constellations south or north of the celestial equator are circumpolar. Depending on the definition, equatorial constellations may include those that lie between declinations 45° north and 45° south, or those that pass through the declination range of the ecliptic or zodiac ranging between 23½° north, the celestial equator, 23½° south. Although stars in constellations appear near each other in the sky, they lie at a variety of distances away from the Earth. Since stars have their own independent motions, all constellations will change over time. After tens to hundreds of thousands of years, familiar outlines will become unrecognizable. Astronomers can predict the past or future constellation outlines by measuring individual stars' common proper motions or cpm by accurate astrometry and their radial velocities by astronomical spectroscopy; the earliest evidence for the humankind's identification of constellations comes from Mesopotamian inscribed stones and clay writing tablets that date back to 3000 BC.
It seems that the bulk of the Mesopotamian constellations were created within a short interval from around 1300 to 1000 BC. Mesopotamian constellations appeared in many of the classical Greek constellations; the oldest Babylonian star catalogues of stars and constellations date back to the beginning in the Middle Bronze Age, most notably the Three Stars Each texts and the MUL. APIN, an expanded and revised version based on more accurate observation from around 1000 BC. However, the numerous Sumerian names in these catalogues suggest that they built on older, but otherwise unattested, Sumerian traditions of the Early Bronze Age; the classical Zodiac is a revision of Neo-Babylonian constellations from the 6th century BC. The Greeks adopted the Babylonian constellations in the 4th century BC. Twenty Ptolemaic constellations are from the Ancient Near East. Another ten have the same stars but different names. Biblical scholar, E. W. Bullinger interpreted some of the creatures mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull as Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle standing in for Scorpio.
The biblical Book of Job also