Wow! Stargazer Captures Cool Cosmic Rarity
Astrophotographer Ron Brecher took this image of NGC 669, a "polar ring galaxy", from Guelph, Ontario on September 19, 2016.
Credit: Ron Brecher

Near the center of this image is a galaxy that is a cosmic rarity, NGC660.   

Astrophotographer Ron Brecher took this image from Guelph, Ontario in Canada on Sept. 19.

"NGC660 is unique in being the only galaxy in its class, referred to as a polar ring galaxy," he wrote in an email to Space.com. Polar ring galaxies have a belt of gas and stars that somehow capture matter from a nearby galaxy. The first polar ring galaxy was observed in 1978 and only around a dozen more have been found. [50 Fabulous Deep-Space Nebula Photos  ]

There are dozens of other galaxies in this field. The most prominent is IC148 in the upper left, lying about 36 million light-years distant. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

"Detailed dust lanes are visible [in the image], and the ring shows plenty of structure too. The ring is 50,000 light-years across; the galaxy about half that," Brecher added. 

Brecher used a SBIG STL-11000M camera, with Baader R, G and B filters, 10″ f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX.  Guided with SBIG’s external guide camera and 80 mm f/6.25 Lumicon achromatic refractor.

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