Waid Observatory

Object: NGC 3115

Date: 02/08/2006                  Location: Margate, FL
Telescope: MK69    -    Mount: MI-250  -   Camera: ST-10XME
Filters: Astrodon TruBalance CRGB - Hutech IDAS LPS
Exposure: L = 60 min. R = 15 min. G & B = 20 min. each

Click on the image to view at higher resolution.

 

NGC 3115 The Spindle Galaxy

NGC 3115 - The Spindle Galaxy 1

Discovered by William Herschel on February 22, 1787

NGC 3115 is one of two galaxies that have been given the common name of “Spindle Galaxy”.  The other is NGC 5866.  NGC 3115 is classed as a lenticular galaxy.  Lenticulars are disk shaped with a central bulge but without the typical spiral arms that we usually associate with flat disk shaped galaxies such as our own Milky Way.  When viewed from an edge on perspective, as is the case with NGC 3115, they display a lens shape and thus the classification lenticular.  NGC 3115 is a seemingly unspectacular when viewed in most amateur telescopes but scientifically it is very interesting.  It was one of the first galaxies discovered to have an extremely super massive black hole in its core.  Based on the orbital velocity of the stars in its core the mass of the central black hole has been measured to be approximately one billion solar masses.  Current speculation is that NGC 3115, in its youth, was a quasar.  It is now in a quiescent state having consumed most of the stars and gas of its youthful accretion disk.  It has very little gas and dust left that would spawn new star farmation.  The vast majority of its component stars are very old.  NGC 3115 lies at a distance of approximately 30 million light years in the direction of the constellation Sextans.  The small spiral galaxy in the upper right part of the image is designated PGC 29300.

1http://chandra.as.utexas.edu/~kormendy/3115-bh.html

 
Copyright Donald P. Waid