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20 Interesting Triangulum Galaxy Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
Triangulum Galaxy

Triangulum Galaxy is one of the closest galaxies we have. It is a pretty interesting galaxy which is not properly understood despite the fact that it is very close to us. Remember that ‘very close’ is in astronomical terms and hence, we are referring to a distance that we cannot reach. At least not with our current Earthly technologies.

Let us take a look at 20 interesting Triangulum Galaxy facts and find out some interesting information about this galaxy. We will start with spotting the galaxy!

Interesting Triangulum Galaxy Facts: 1-5

1. In order to be able to spot the Triangulum Galaxy, you need to point your telescope to a specific direction. Your telescope needs to have a right ascension of 2.11 hours. It should have a declination of 32.03 degrees and you need to look between the latitudes 90 and -50 degrees.

2. The Triangulum Galaxy is catalogued as M33 because it was first discovered by Charles Messier. The discovery came on 25th of August, 1764.

3. However, there is a slight dispute regarding the discovery. According to European Southern Observatory, it was Giovanni Battista Hodierna – an astronomer from Italy who discovered the galaxy in 1654.

4. The organization says that Hodierna published a book titled, “De systemate orbis cometici” in 1654. In the book he made oblique reference. Some astronomers take that as the first discovery of M33.

5. William Herschel, the person who discovered Uranus, also observed this galaxy in late 1700s. He noted something peculiar in the galaxy.

Interesting Triangulum Galaxy Facts: 6-10

6. What Herschel saw was a large gas region inside the Triangulum. That gas region is today catalogued as NGC 604. It is a colorful nebula and is a star-birth region of the Triangulum.

7. Before Edwin Hubble, the Triangulum Galaxy was considered to be a spiral nebula, which was thought to be a part of Milky Way Galaxy.

8. Hubble however discovered by late 1920s that M33 was actually a separate galaxy. He arrived to this conclusion by observing the Cepheid variable stars (the similar way he identified the Whirlpool Galaxy). These are the stars whose luminosity remains unchanged irrespective of their location. These stars thus help to calculate cosmic distances.

9. Later many observations were made of the Triangulum Galaxy and it was found that the galaxy is speeding towards Milky Way Galaxy.

10. The rate at which the Triangulum Galaxy is approaching Milky Way is 100,000 kilometers per hour or 62,000 miles per hour.

Interesting Triangulum Galaxy Facts: 11-15

11. The NGC 604 or the colorful nebula of the Triangulum is so big that it was described as ‘monstrous’ by Space Telescope Science Institute.

12. NASA too commented on NGC 604. NASA stated that NGC 604 would have been the brightest object in night sky apart from Moon if it was located at the same distance as the Orion Nebula from our Earth.

13. In 2003 scientists came up with an estimate. It was estimated that the gas cloud was 100 times bigger than Orion Nebula.

14. It was also estimated that the gas cloud was 1,300 light years across and contained over 200 blue stars. Blue stars are hypergiant stars.

15. The Triangulum Galaxy is a spiral galaxy. It possibly doesn’t have any central bar like that of the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Interesting Triangulum Galaxy Facts: 16-20

16. Some say that may be it has a central bar but it is too weak to be considered. The spiral arms of the galaxy actually spread out from the galactic core.

17. There are other star birth regions in the galaxy apart from NGC 604 gas cloud. These regions are spread throughout the spiral arms of the galaxy. It is believed that Andromeda’s star birth rate is lower than that of Triangulum’s.

18. The regions where the stars are formed are known as HII regions. Some of the largest yet short-lived stars are formed in these regions.

19. Astronomers believe that the Triangulum and the Andromeda are trapped gravitationally. It is believed that the two galaxies had very close interaction in the past and they might have another interaction in 2.5 billion years from now.

20. The Triangulum Galaxy is 3 million light years away from us. Its total mass is anywhere between 10 and 40 billion solar masses. The galaxy is 60,000 light years across. The galaxy has its own satellite galaxy. This satellite galaxy is known as Pisces Dwarf Galaxy.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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