Antlia – the air pump

February 25, 2018


The constellation Antlia represents an air pump. The name just means pump, but it was originally Antlia Pneumatica. Back in the 1700’s Nick Lacaille named several constellations after inventions that changed the world, in his opinion.

In the 1670’s a French physicist named Denis Papin had invented the air pump which is a handy device to have in a laboratory. It was a shattering change to the scientific community, leading to the making of a little plastic diver who hovers over the plastic treasure chest in your fish aquarium.

The Antlia Dwarf galaxy is a small roundish galaxy with some unusual properties compared to most dwarf galaxies. It is rich in atomic hydrogen and poor in molecular hydrogen. It’s too far away from us to be part of our own local group of galaxies. It’s part of a another group called the Antlia Cluster. All of this is rather academic since it’s too dim to see in my telescope.

The Antlia Cluster has a couple of hundred galaxies swarming around each other. The whole group as a unit is swarming around a bunch of other conglomerates of galaxies known as the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster.

Our own group of galaxies is part of the Virgo Supercluster. These architectural natural wonders, the superclusters, are among the biggest things we’ve ever seen short of the observable universe itself.

If you are out looking for a new tasty target to add to your astrophotography portfolio, consider taking a snapshot of IC-2560 in Antlia. It’s a rather elegant barred-spiral galaxy with a creamy filling and a star-forming crust.

Carpe Noctem

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