A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
This is perhaps one of the most iconic references to galaxies in modern popular culture. But what exactly is a galaxy, and how many do we know about today?
The mysteries of the cosmos have played a pivotal role in the development of human civilization.
The cosmos was the source of many of our religions, gods, and other esoteric mysteries, and our fascination continues as the desire to seek the deepest knowledge of the universe has grown into a number of advanced scientific fields.
Now space is studied to give us insight into our past and our potential future, as man continues to dream of life amongst the stars.
What Is A Galaxy?
The simplest way to describe a galaxy is as such, it is a huge collection of gas, dust, billions of stars, and their solar systems, which are all held together by the force of gravity.
How Many Galaxies Are There?
There are an estimated 100 billion galaxies across the known observable universe… 100 billion! Of these, around 100,000 of these galaxies are found in our Local Supercluster, and on a smaller scale, there are around 51 galaxies in our Local Group.
Who Discovered Galaxies?
The Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that the bright group of stars he saw in the sky might consist of stars. This group of stars was the Milky Way, and it is the first recorded observation as to the possible nature of these cosmic phenomena.
French astronomer Charles Messier observed galaxies in the 17th century, although he was able to observe them, he was unaware at the time of their true nature.
In 1923, Edwin Hubble proved that there were other galaxies in space out beyond the Milky Way. He did so by discovering the Cepheids in the Andromeda Galaxy, which resolved the previously contested Shapley-Curtis debate.
List Of Named Galaxies
Although there are many more galaxies out there, due to the size of the task, I would be writing forever! With that in mind, the below list will focus on the thirty-six named galaxies.
It gets its name due to being located in the Andromeda constellation, which is the closest big galaxy to us in the Milky Way. Predictions estimate around 4.5 billion years before the two eventually collide, merging into a new galaxy called Milkdromeda.
Located in the Corvus constellation, the galaxies are shaped not too dissimilar from that of an insect’s antennae, hence its name.
Fascinatingly, this galaxy seems to be rotating backwards, as uniquely the ends of the spiral arms that reach out are pointing in the direction of rotation. It can be found in the Centaurus constellation.
Black Eye Galaxy
This is a mysterious and perhaps a little spooky-looking galaxy that’s located in the Coma Berenices constellation. There is a dark band of dust that encircles the galaxy’s nucleus, which has led to the Black Eye name, though others refer to it as the Evil Eye galaxy.
Named after Johann Elert Bode, who discovered the galaxy in the Ursa Major constellation in 1774.
Appropriately named due to their butterfly-like appearance, these galaxies are a beautiful sight in the Virgo constellation.
A mesmerizing galaxy that looks like a cosmic fairground ride, an epic blue band revolving around the galaxy’s nucleus. It can be found in the Sculptor constellation.
A visual spectacle located in the Ursa Major constellation, a galaxy that appears similar to the shape of a Cuban cigar.
This galaxy is named after the Circinus constellation in which it is found.
Coma Pinwheel Galaxy
This galaxy takes its name from the combination of its resemblance to the Pinwheel Galaxy and its location in the Coma Berenices constellation.
Located in the Sculptor constellation, this galaxy has a unique appearance due to tidal stripping, which causes a comet-like effect.
Cosmos Redshift 7
Known to be one of the brightest and most visible far-off galaxies, this galaxy contains some of the earliest stars in the universe.
It is found in the Sextans constellation and takes its name from the Redshift (z) measurement of nearly 7. (z = 6.604)
Eye Of Sauron
This galaxy shares a resemblance to the famed Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. This gazing eye is found in the Canes Venatici constellation.
A wonderfully bright and vivid appearing galaxy that looks like gigantic and spectacular fireworks going off. The galaxy is located in the Cygnus and Cepheus constellation.
Hockey Stick Galaxies
Found in the Canes Venatici constellation, it is named due to its remarkable hockey stick-like appearance, as it is long and curved at the end.
A stunning ring galaxy that is found in the Serpens Court constellation and was named after its discoverer, Art Hoag.
Astronomers believe it may even be a polar-ring galaxy, meaning the ring is located within the plane of rotation of the central object.
Large Magellanic Cloud
Named after the famed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and located in the Dorado/ Mensa constellation. It is also the fourth-largest galaxy in our Local Group and forms a pair with the Small Magellanic Cloud.
Found in the Volans constellation, this ring galaxy is named after its discoverer Eric Lindsay and his professor Harlow Shapely.
Little Sombrero Galaxy
This galaxy is named so due to its similarity to the Sombrero Galaxy, and it is located in the Pegasus constellation.
This galaxy was discovered in the Coma Berenices constellation by David Malin.
A spectacular sight in the Ursa Major constellation. The merging galaxies cause space dust and debris to be ejected, and their appearance is said to resemble that of the snakes on Medusa’s head.
Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy
This galaxy is similar to the Sculpture Galaxies and is also located in the Sculptor constellation.
Bearing a striking resemblance to that of a mouse, the Mice Galaxies are found in the Coma Berenices constellation.
Small Magellanic Cloud
Also named after the famed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, this galaxy is part of a pair with the Large Magellanic Cloud. This one, however, is located in the Tucana constellation.
Nichols Mayall of the Lick Observatory discovered this object in Ursa Major. It is also known as VV 32 and Arp 148 and is believed to be two galaxies in the process of a collision. One of the galaxies is horizontally merging into the vertical face of the other.
Home sweet home. Located at the center of the Sagittarius constellation, the Milky Way is home to our Sun and Solar System.
Named after its sleek and slender appearance, the Needle Galaxy can be found in the Coma Berenices constellation.
This galaxy takes its name from the three astronomers who discovered and identified it in the Cetus constellation.
Found in Ursa Major and named due to its resemblance to a pinwheel toy.
Named after its location in the Sculptor Constellation and also known as the Silver Dollar or Silver Coin Galaxy.
Found in the Virgo constellation, this galaxy takes its name from its similar appearance to a sombrero hat.
Southern Pinwheel Galaxy
Located in the southern celestial hemisphere in the Hydra constellation, this galaxy looks similar to the Pinwheel Galaxy.
A stunning appearance that resembles a cosmic sunflower, it is found in the Canes Venatici constellation.
Resembling a tadpole swimming through the cosmos, this galaxy is located in the Draco constellation. It gets its unique shape due to previous tidal interactions that pulled the debris and dust into a tail shape.
This galaxy is named so due to its location in the Triangulum constellation.
A galaxy in the Canes Venatici constellation that’s full of gravitational conflict. This disturbed gravity causes the whirlpool appearance.
We hope that this list of the known named galaxies will pique your interest and encourage you to continue your journey of discovery through the cosmos.
You could visit an observatory or look into getting a telescope at home. Be sure to share the experience with friends and family.
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