Up-Close and personal look at NGC 2403 (Image Credit: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Legacy Archive; Processing: Robert Gendler)

This featured photo focuses in on a beautiful galaxy often mistaken for one of our closest neighbors, Triangulum. Instead, the galaxy, which is called NGC 2403, is much more distant, situated approximately 12 million light-years from Earth, toward the Camelopardalis constellation; The two certainly have a lot on common regardless. Both are approximately the same size, and they are both lit up by a remarkable number of HII regions—places that are in the process of forging new stars.

From our vantage point, NGC 2403 is pictured head-on, giving us a great angle to study its inner structure. Indeed, this proved very useful in 2004, when an amature astronomer discovered a supernova near the galaxy’s core. It was so bright, it would take 200 million Suns combined to match its luminosity.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, A.V. Filippenko (University of California, Berkeley), P. Challis (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), et al.

Per NASA, “The arrow at top right points to the stellar blast, called a supernova. The supernova is so bright in this image that it easily could be mistaken for a foreground star in our Milky Way Galaxy. And yet, this supernova, called SN 2004dj, resides far beyond our galaxy. Its home is in the outskirts of NGC 2403, a galaxy located 11 million light-years from Earth. Although the supernova is far from Earth, it is the closest stellar explosion discovered in more than a decade.”

Ultimately, NGC 2403 belongs to the Messier 81 (M81) galaxy group, which hosts around 34 galaxies. A few of which linger nearby, including a galaxy known as NGC 2404. The pair are so close, they are practically conjoined.


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