NGC 2997, a grand design spiral galaxy in Antlia

 
NGC 2997, a grand design spiral galaxy in Antlia

Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Gendler (http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/)

NGC 2997 is a bright, unbarred grand design spiral galaxy, located about 40 million light-years away in the southern constellation Antlia (the Air pump). It is the brightest member of a group of galaxies of the same name in the Local Supercluster of galaxies along with the Local Group.

NGC 2997 contains hundreds of billions of stars and is thought to have a mass of about 100 billion times that of our Sun, but is probably less massive than our own Milky Way Galaxy. The galaxy is speeding away from us at about 1085 kilometers per second.

With a disk that is inclined 45 degrees to our line of sight, NGC 2997 has an oval appearance. The inner disk is covered with dust lanes, silhouetted against the central part of the galaxy, which shows a high surface brightness.

Like all grand design spirals, NGC 2997 has prominent and well-defined spiral arms, which appear to originate in the yellow nucleus. These sprawling arms are peppered with bright red blobs of ionized hydrogen which are regions of star formation, where the bright blue stars are born that generate most of the light in the arms of the galaxy.

Its small nucleus, that most likely hosts a supermassive black hole, also shows an interesting structure and concentrates an older population of yellowish stars. The nucleus is surrounded by a chain of hot giant clouds of ionized hydrogen.

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