back to » galaxies

Remington's Galaxy - Discovery of a new LSB galaxy near NGC2655

Remington's Galaxy Remington's Galaxy ©2018 Frederick Steiling

FITS source data available - Please contact me for information.

Download the latest draft of the PDF-formatted paper on the discovery here.

Access the citable article online through the Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society.

Image Links
Full resolution - LSB Galaxy
Full resolution - NGC2655 Field
Target Information
Main Target Designations Remington's Galaxy - A new LSB Galaxy near NGC2655
RA Center 8h 50m 23.3s
DEC Center +78° 28' 58.0"
Rotation 0° (North is up)
Exposures (source data)
LRGB 460’/130'/120'/130'
L subframes 23x1200" @ 1x1
R/G/B subframes 13/12/13 x 600" @ 1x1
Total Integration 14hrs
Date(s) of acquisition 2016Oct23, 2016Nov29, 2016Dec08, 2017Mar01, 2017Mar02
Location Whiteside, MO
Imager SBIG STF-8300M
Telescope/Lens Orion 8" f/3.9 Astrograph
Mount Celestron CGEM (DIY Hypertuned)
Guiding Apparatus OAG-8300
Guiding Camera QHY5L-II
Filter Wheel FW5-8300
Wide Filters Astronomik L
Astrodon Gen II LRGB
Coma Corrector Baader MPCC Mark III
Collimator Howie Glatter 650nm laser
Focusing Moonlite CR with V2 High-res Stepper
Acquisition Sequence Generator Pro
Guiding PHD2
Processing PixInsight 1.8
Research Tools Aladin, Astropy, VizieR

When I started imaging, one of the biggest surprises that hooked me was not that we can expose these beautiful areas of the night sky with consumer-grade equipment, but that we could expose the stuff behind those beautiful areas.  Sometimes the most interesting things are not the biggest and brightest objects in the foreground, but the smallest and dimmest in the background.

After 13 months engaged in analysis, research, and communication with academic astronomers, I am excited to announce my official discovery of a low surface brightness (LSB) galaxy in the NGC2655 field I completed in 2017 which is capped by my article published in the Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society (RNAAS) in collaboration with local imager Dan Crowson.  When we talk about the smallest and dimmest objects in an image, this type of galaxy is one of the quintessential examples.

LSB galaxies are as fascinating as they are mysterious.  A huge percentage of their mass (usually greater than 95%) is composed of non-baryonic dark matter that emits no radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum.  That is, they are 95% "invisible".  The remainder of the matter is stellar and accounts for the extremely low brightness.  In fact, it is so low that by definition LSB galaxies have surface brightnesses less than a magnitude lower than that of the sky.  It is generally believed that these galaxies have not undergone mergers and interactions as have many other brighter galaxies, a set of events that is typically responsible for an uptick in star formation activity.  Instead, LSB galaxies are examples of relatively "pristine" objects, and for that reason are a current hot research topic.  Being that these galaxies are so dim and there are several active searches for them underway in the academic and professional community, I am hugely excited to contribute another.

LSB Galaxy - Annotated in NGC2655 field

As I write this, it's still a bit surreal that this discovery has officially come to fruition -- The journey has been a long one!  After originally posting this field, I was completely enamored with all of the background galaxies present and spent some time identifying some of them.  It was during this search that I noticed a "smudge" on the image.  Was it real or an equipment problem?  After searching the VizieR database access tool through Aladin, I was stumped - none of the galactic databases identified this object.  I contacted fellow imager Dan Crowson who graciously pulled down some confirmation images from his remote observatory and confirmed that, indeed, this object was real.  And so began the hunt...

I spent quite a bit of time cold-calling astronomers for information on how, exactly, I could share this discovery with the larger interested community in some official capacity.  A single discovery of a galaxy could be significant, but on its own isn't substantive enough to warrant a full peer-reviewed and refereed publication.  And is the data I and Dan acquired good enough?  In step the gracious folks who responded to my cold calls:

- Roy Gal (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii) was the first to respond to a message I sent to the general inquiry box via the University of Hawaii.  He indicated that this was likely a low surface brightness galaxy and reconfirmed that it was as-yet unidentified.  He pointed me to the new Pan-STARRS1 survey for another set of data on the area.  Low and behold, the image faintly shows here!  This research data would end up serving as excellent confirmation data in our article.

- Thorsten Zilch and Peter Riepe (Tief Belichtete Galaxien Project Group) are members of a group that specifically hunt dim objects such as LSB galaxies and tidal streams.  Both responded to my inquiry with great excitement, and indicated that it was possible that this LSB galaxy was outside of the local group of galaxies.  While this doesn't diminish the discovery, it could put it on the "back burner" for some astronomical research, so an immediate path to announce the data to the community wasn't immediately evident.

- Stacy McGaugh (Case Western Reserve University) was a contact I made in March 2018, almost 12 months after my contact with Roy Gal and the TBG Group.  Prof. McGaugh has authored papers on LSB galaxies, and was very enthusiastic about the discovery.  He suggested the Research Notes of the AAS as an outlet.  This journal ended up being perfect for this discovery, as it focuses on short notes about timely observations and is quick-to-publish after the editors deem an article appropriate.  How lucky was I?  The journal began being published in November 2017 after a decades-long hiatus!

At this point, I knew what to do and dusted off my LaTeX familiarity.  Now, the rest is "in the books" both literally and figuratively!

Many have asked what name I assigned to this galaxy.  While my hope is that the galaxy will be picked up as part of a larger research effort and appropriately cataloged with an ID, I am proud to unofficially name the new object "Remington's Galaxy" after my son, who was born on June 29, 2017 in the midst of my investigation.

I'm indebted to those who have helped me find a path throughout this process, including Dan Crowson, Roy Gal, Thorsten Zilch, Peter Riepe, and Stacy McGaugh.  I have had such a fantastic time researching this area and putting together data for announcing it to the world.  As a result, I feel as though I have my own little corner in the universe, and if you've read this far, I'm so thrilled that you chose to share it with me!

share this item
facebook googleplus linkedin rss twitter youtube