NGC 1055: A Galaxy Just Next Door

Every day the American NASA “Astronomy Picture of the Day” (APOD) site posts up a new picture taken of something in the vast reaches of outer-space. Most of the pictures are taken by the Hubble telescope. Because the Hubble telescope is in orbit outside of the Earth’s dusty,  smoky, and polluted atmosphere it can take clearer pictures further out into space.

Today’s photograph in space posted on APOD is of one of our nearer neighbouring galaxies. Earth, as most of us now know, is little more than a small planet in a small solar system that is located on the outer edge of one of the five spiral fingers in the massive Milky Way Galaxy.

Galaxy NGC 1055, show in the picture below taken from the Hubble telescope, is a neighbouring galaxy roughly the same size as our own Milky Way.

NGC1055 Using speed-of-light calculations—because the speed of light is a constant all over the Universe—we know that NGC 1055 is 60 million light years away and is 100,000 light years in diameter (which is about the same as the Milky Way).

To put the size of things even more into perspective every shining dot in this picture is either another galaxy or a sun with planets (that we cannot see as they do not radiate light) orbiting around them.

Even though the Hubble telescope has been in use since 1990 and has taken millions of space photographs it still amazes me that us humans are able to take pictures in space like this.