A galaxy cuts through space like a scar made of light

Here's the deepest, most detailed look at the iconic edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 891. This first photograph from R. Jay GaBany's new California observatory involved almost 35 hours of exposure time.

"As a result, hundreds of small, much more distant galaxies can be seen in the image as well as very small scale structures across the galaxy's edge," GaBany says. At his website, Cosmotography.com, you can see larger versions where you can see very faint dust clouds, called cirrus, that have never been imaged within NGC 891 at this scale.

"Last fall, I moved my remote observatory from the south central mountains of New Mexico, where I have been taking pictures for the past five years," Jay said, "to high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between Yosemite and King's Canyon National Parks, in the east central part of California….For me, the first picture included many test exposures taken to insure my instruments were functioning correctly. As a result, I chose a familiar subject so I could spot problems quickly. Luckily, I had very few challenges and my new remote observatory is now operating both smoothly and reliably!"

NGC 891 is located in the northern constellation of Andromeda. It's easily visible with a small telescope this time of year and is a favorite subject for astrophotographers. "However, no image of this galaxy (to my knowledge) has gone as deep as this picture," Jay said.

Also, Universe Today would like to send our congratulations to Jay for being recognized by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and Sky & Telescope Magazine, as he was awarded the Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award for his work with Dr. David Delgado and his team of professional astronomers! The award is given annually to an amateur astronomer from North America who makes outstanding contributions to scientific research.

Jay was cited as being one of the world's leading amateur astrophotographers for the past decade, "who has single-handedly, through his dedicated and careful work, spawned a new research direction in the exploration of galaxy evolution via low-surface-brightness imaging of galaxy halo substructure," the AAS press release said. "GaBany has devoted hundreds of hours working with professional astronomers to make deep images that reveal faint tidal streams and rings in the outer halos of galaxies, indicative of recent and ongoing galaxy interactions with dwarf satellites, supporting studies of galaxy formation."

This post by Nancy Atkinson originally appeared at Universe Today.