Maffei 2 is the invisible galaxy that gave rise to the development of infrared astronomy

(ORDO NEWS) — Maffei 2 is a prime example of an “infrared galaxy” that is virtually invisible to optical telescopes.

This is due to the fact that the dust clouds that fill the intergalactic space between the Milky Way and Maffei 2 block about 99.5% of visible light.

However, an infrared image taken on January 18, 2011 by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope allows us to peer through the haze of gas and dust to see the Maffei 2 galaxy in all its glory.

Discovery history

In 1968, the Italian astronomer Paolo Maffei , studying infrared photographic plates, noticed a mysterious spot, which only four years later he was able to identify as a galaxy.

This discovery was an important step in the development of infrared astronomy, and the galaxy was named after the attentive scientist.

Today, just half a century later, we have NASA’s James Webb Space Super Telescope at our disposal , the appearance of which is directly related to the exponentially growing interest in infrared astronomy. So, it is worth recognizing that humanity is developing impressively fast.

Galactic evolution

The image (below) shows a prominent central bar or bar (an elongated structure of stars and gas in the galactic disk) and asymmetric spiral arms.

Active star formation is observed in the bar, which is due to the fact that as a result of gravitational interactions, a large amount of gas and dust got into the central region of the galaxy.

The presence of a bar indicates evolutionary changes in the galaxy that occur regardless of its environment. In other words, the Maffei 2 galaxy is growing up, becoming more perfect.


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