NGC 55, a barred irregular galaxy in Sculptor

 
NGC 55, a barred irregular galaxy in Sculptor

NGC 55 (Caldwell 72) is a bright barred irregular galaxy about 70 thousand light years across, located 5.4 light-years away in the southern constellation Sculptor. It is likely that NGC 55 and its neighbor NGC 300 orbit each other and form a gravitationally bound pair.

Along with NGC 300, NGC 55 is part of the Local Group of Galaxies that also includes the Andromeda galaxy (M31), the Magellanic Clouds, and 40 other galaxies. (Both galaxies have traditionally been identified as members of the Sculptor Group, however, recent distance measurements indicate that the two galaxies actually lie in the foreground.)

NGC 55 is nearly edge-on and appears asymmetrical, like a cigar. Its bulge is diffuse, broad and somewhat elongated. The bright core is crossed with clouds of gas and dust, and it has a lot of pinkish active star forming regions, and young blue star clusters. Among all these stars are 143 Cepheids.

NGC 55 is thought to be similar to our galactic neighbour, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), although the LMC is seen face-on, whilst NGC 55 is edge-on.

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