Image Credit: Local Group Galaxies Survey Team, NOAO, AURA, NSF (See a larger image here)

The galaxy we call our home — the Milky Way — is a member of a galaxy group known as the local group (it, in turn, contains more than 54 galaxies that span more than ten million light-years from Earth). This is one member of it, NGC 6822 — a dwarf-galaxy that lies more than 1.6 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius (this makes it one of our closest celestial neighbors).

NGC 6822 (also known as Barnard's Galaxy, IC 4895 or Caldwell 58) is a barred, irregular galaxy that shares many similarities with the Small Magellanic Cloud, discovered by E. E. Barnard in 1881. Its designation as 'irregular' is due in no small part to the distribution of the stars within the confines in the galaxy, but it is also strange in several other ways as well, including its unusually high abundance of HII regions (or emission nebulae), which contain ionized hydrogen encasing the young stars -- mostly concentrated in the upper right portion of this image. Also from our vantage point, the galaxy looks almost rectangular.

Lastly, In the lower left of this image, you can also see several of the most massive stars in the region that are grouped together in the galaxy's arm. You can also spot out two the most famous nebulae in this galaxy, the star forming regions known as Hubble-V and Hubble-X. Each star that lies in this region are more luminous than 100,000 sun-like stars!


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