NGC 2889 in Hydra

March 2020 - Galaxy of the Month

This interactive image of the NGC 2889 was provided by the Pan-STARRS1 Surveys using Aladin Sky Atlas. We also have a finder chart that should help you identify these galaxies.

For March’s GOM we stay in in the constellation of Hydra and look at the pair of galaxies NGC 2889 and NGC 2884. William Herschel discovered NGC 2889 in 1786 but it was left to Heinrich d’Arrest to discover NGC 2884 in 1865.

Both of these galaxies appear to be spirals but whereas NGC 2889 is seen almost face on NGC 2884 is viewed at quite an angle. The two galaxies are listed as a pair but are not currently interacting, however distance measurements would suggest that the two galaxies may be an optical pair rather than a physical pair as NGC 2889 is listed as having a distance of about 61 Mpc whereas NGC 2884 is listed with a distance of maybe 50 Mpc. They could still be a pair however if there is a sufficiently large local component to their velocities as many distance velocity calculations are dependent on the Hubble flow being the dominant component of the velocity.

NGC 2889 was home to SN 2007rb.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there is not much research been done on either of these galaxies and what there is mostly concentrates on generic properties of the bar in NGC 2889. Deep images also suggest that NGC 2884 is a barred spiral, however NED gives it a classification as an S0/a (a lenticular galaxy) so there appears to be some confusion over its classification.

The two galaxies are close enough together that they will fit in the same medium (150x) to high (270x) power field of view. However given that Herschel did not see NGC 2884 it may be much fainter than NGC 2889 so a high power may be better to pick it out. Night Sky Observer's Guide (NSOG) suggests that NGC 2889 will be visible faintly in 8-10 inch scopes whilst 16-18 will show more detail and bring out NGC 2884.

Nearby is the asterism that was given the NGC number 2879 that was also found by d’Arrest on the same night he found NGC 2884. Unfortunately it is not a true fuzzy but merely a grouping of four stars. There are a number of other very faint galaxies in this field that are likely to be beyond all but the largest telescopes visually but are probably within the range of EAA systems.

Owen Brazell - Galaxy Section Director