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Digitized Sky Survey Image of the Galaxy NGC 6822


This image is a colour composite made from exposures from the Digitized Sky Survey 2 (DSS2). The field of view is approximatelly 2.9 x 2.9 degrees. At only about a tenth of the Milky Way's size, Barnard’s Galaxy fits its dwarfish classification. All told, it contains about 10 million stars — a far cry from the Milky Way’s estimated 400 billion. In the Local Group, as elsewhere in the Universe, however, dwarf galaxies outnumber their larger, shapelier cousins.

Irregular dwarf galaxies like Barnard’s Galaxy get their random, blob-like forms from close encounters with or "digestion" by other galaxies. Like everything else in the Universe, galaxies are in motion, and they often make close passes or even go through one another. The density of stars in galaxies is quite low, meaning that few stars physically collide during these cosmic dust-ups. Gravity's fatal attraction, however, can dramatically warp and scramble the shapes of the passing or crashing galaxies. Whole bunches of stars are pulled or flung from their galactic home, in turn forming irregularly shaped dwarf galaxies like NGC 6822.


Credit:
ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin

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