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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT
Our Galactic Neighbors
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Our Galactic Neighbors

December 24, 2007
The "lifestyles" of 75 neighboring galaxies are illuminated in this poster from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

In this composite, blue colors reveal light from an older population of stars. Tints of green represent organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, while red lumps show clouds of warm dust and gas heated by radiation from newborn stars.

The galaxies are organized by shape, according to the Hubble-Tuning Fork.

In this structure, elliptical galaxies sit on the left side of the poster, creating the tuning fork's handle. They are designated by the letter "E", and given a number from zero to seven. An "E0" galaxy looks round, while an E7 galaxy is very long and thin.

Spiral galaxies are located to the right side of the poster creating the fork's two prongs. The top prong is made up of regular spiral galaxies, and identified by the letter "S." Barred spiral galaxies make up the bottom prong, and are branded "SB." Meanwhile, letters - "a", "b", and "c" - indicate how tightly the spiral arms are wound. An "Sa" galaxy's arms are wound very tightly, while an "Sc" galaxy's spiral arms are very loosely wound.

Irregular galaxies are organized on bottom-left side of the poster because they were not represented in Hubble's original Tuning Fork.

The galaxies in this poster are three-color composites where blue depicts the galaxies at a light wavelength of 3.6 microns, while 8.0 microns is green, and 24 microns is red.

These galactic portraits were collected as part of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Legacy project (SINGS).