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Darth Vader's Galaxy, NGC 936
RA 02h 27m 39.75s Dec -1° 9' 36.68"
4.3' x 3.8'
50 million light years
6.73 x 6.73 arcminutes
North is 1.6° right of vertical
March 1, 2010
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
Glowing in the cosmos at a distance of about 50 million light-years away, the galaxy NGC 936 bears a striking resemblance to the Twin Ion Engine (TIE) starfighters used by the evil Dark Lord Darth Vader and his crew in the epic motion picture Star Wars. The galaxy's shiny bulge and a bar-like structure crossing it bring to mind the central engine and cockpit of the spacecraft; while a ring of stars surrounding the galactic core completes the parallel, corresponding to the wings of the TIE fighters that are equipped with solar panels.
This galaxy harbors exclusively old stars and shows no sign of any recent star formation. Bars such as that observed in NGC 936 are common features of galaxies; however, this one is significantly more marked than average. Although a perfect symbol for the dark side of the "Force", it is still debatable whether this galaxy is dominated, like most others, by a large amount of dark matter.
This image has been obtained using the FORS instrument mounted on one of the 8.2-meter telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope on top of Cerro Paranal, Chile. It combines data acquired through four wide-band filters (B, V, R, I). The field of view is about 7 arcminutes.