NGC 7479 ~ Starburst Barred Spiral Galaxy
Optics:   Ritchey–Chrétien 20" F/8.2 (4166mm FL) Processing:   PixInsight, Photoshop
Camera:   SBIG STXL-11000 with Adaptive Optics Date:   October 2022
11 Megapixel (4008 x 2672 16-bit sensor) Location:   Columbus, Texas
Exposure:   LRGB = 640:100:80:100 minutes Imager:   Kent E. Biggs
NGC 7479 is a classical barred spiral galaxy located in the direction of the constellation Pegasus. It is also designated Caldwell 44, in the Caldwell Catalogue of 109 objects. Patrick Moore created this catalogue of clusters, nebulae, and galaxies to extend the well known Messier Catalogue of objects which was intended to eliminate mistaking objects as highly sought after new comets. There are three interesting facts about the Caldwell catalogue. First, it includes many objects bigger and brighter than the earlier Messier list, since Messier really only cared about objects that could be confused as comets. Second, Moore used his surname Caldwell, since the first initial of Moore and Messier are the same. He did not want two different “M1”s for instance. Third, Moore did not actually discover any of the 109 objects in his list, so its history and use leads to some controversy in astronomy circles.

William Hershel, not Moore, discovered NGC 7479 in 1784. It has intense starburst activity from the nucleus, all the way to the outer arms. It has also undergone a relatively recent merger with a smaller galaxy as is evident by radio images of the galaxy showing arms expanding in the opposite direction of the visible arms seen here. It is also a recent source of 2 supernova in 1990 and 2009 where stars ending their life exploded and briefly shined brighter than any other star in the galaxy.

While there are many much fainter galaxies in this image, NGC 7479 is somewhat unique in that there are no other galaxies nearby. All faint galaxies visible are much, much further away. It is as if NGC 7479 has merged with everything close by already, therefore, it will, for many billions of years, remain isolated on its own, untouched by future mergers. The galaxy is about 105 million light years away and about 150 thousand light years across.

In the image above, inset and enlarged are three very distant galaxies, only one identified in the million galaxy PGC catalog as PGC 1405069. These distant galaxies are 100s of millions of light years away with the light we see leaving dated to when earth was just starting more complex life forms.

In the video below, several things are visible and evident. First, note how the atmosphere changes throughout as evident by the stars changing shape and size. Each frame is 10 minutes long of exposure but only 1/5 second long in the video. Second, the bright lines streaking across the image are either airplanes or satellites that continue to be a problem for astronomers. These planes and satellites orbit earth. Third, in addition to the NGC 7479 galaxy, there are two faint visible asteroids or space debris visible. The first is just to the left of the galaxy and appears to be leaving it; the second is more challenging to find. These asteroids are in our own solar systems orbiting the sun or earth. The stars in the image are outside our solar system but within our galaxy. All the other faint smudges are distant galaxies outside our own Milky Way Galaxy!

*Using a mouse, hover over the images above for annotations, insets, and enlargements. The video below can be paused and made full screen as well.
Video of satellites, asteroids, stars, and galaxies!