See Stellar Association.
Pattern of apparently neighbored, but physically unrelated stars, formed by a chance alignment of stars at different distances which happen to be situated in about the same direction.
System of two stars which are bound together by their mutual gravity. Also see Double Star.
Nebula consisting of two rather symmetrical bright lobes with a star between them. They are thought to have been ejected along the star's polar axis, typically during the process of star formation.
Luminous cloud or mass of gas or dust in space (Nebula) which either shines by its own light (emission nebula) or by reflecting light of nearby stars ( reflection nebula). Besides diffuse nebulae, Planetary Nebulae and Supernova Remnants are special types of bright emission nebulae.
Elliptical or spheroidal component of Disk galaxies, with most properties of elliptical galaxies: Consisted basically of old stars (Population II) filling an ellipsoidal volume. It is sometimes thought to be divided in a central galactic nucleus and an outer galactic halo.
Cluster of Galaxies:
Group of physically neighbored and gravitationally bound galaxies. At least almost all galaxies are members of small groups (like our Local Group) or large clusters of galaxies (like the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies). Clusters of galaxies tend to form superclusters.
Small dark nebula (globule) appearing like a comet.
Small fan-shaped reflection nebula appearing like a comet.
Deep Sky Object (DSO):
Celestial object beyond the solar system. In a closer sense, the term applies to nonstellar objects only, i.e., star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies.
Bright nebula of irregular shape. Sometimes, arbitrary irregularly-shaped nebulae are called diffuse, such as fragments of and very old supernova remnants. But typically, the term describes a nebula consisting of interstellar matter, i.e. gas and dust, from which stars are forming, resulting in a young open star cluster. When some of the stars are hot enough, the nebula is shining from the emission of light by the excited atoms of its gas (emission nebula), and and also referred to as H II region. Otherwise, it reflects the light of the stars involved (reflection nebula).
The disk component of disk galaxies results from the overall angular momentum of these galaxies and shows overall rotation; the disk is typically very thin and about circular in shape. It is often consisted of young stellar population (Population I) and Interstellar Matter, and contains diffuse nebulae and young open star clusters.
Galaxy that contains a more or less pronounced disk component besides an ellipsoidally shaped bulge. The disk is a result of a significant overall andular momentum of these galaxies.
Two stars situated close together in the sky, so that they may appear as one star with the naked eye, or under bad viewing conditions. These may be physically related binary stars or optical chance alignments of unrelated stars with different distances.
Ellipsoidally-shaped galaxy, generally tri-axial, consisting primarily of an old stellar population (Population II); with properties similar to the bulges of disk galaxies. They have at best little overall angular momentum, and contain at best a small disk component.
Nebula of arbitrary nature which shines from the emission of light by the atoms of its gas, which is excited by high energy radiation of stars involved.
Outer region of a galaxy of any type; typically containing old Population II stars and globular star clusters, sometimes mixed up with somewhat younger stars from disrupted, "cannibalized" dwarf galaxies.
Central region of a galaxy, typically composed of an old stellar population (Population II).
Largs system of stars and interstellar matter, typically containing several millions to some trillions of stars, with masses a few million to several trillion times that of our sun, and dimensions of a few 1,000s to several 100,000s lightyears. They come in a variety of flavors: Spiral, Lenticular (S0), Elliptical and Irregular Galaxies, and besides stars, typically contain various star clusters and nebulae.
See Cluster of Galaxies
Globular Star Cluster:
Star Cluster of about spherical shape, containing some 10,000s to millions of stars of common origin, spread over a volume of severel tens to 100s lightyears. Typically of old age (Population II). Globular clusters are apparent in all types of galaxies; in disk galaxies, they typically populate the galactic halos.
Spiral Galaxies exhibiting prominent spiral patterns (spiral arms) are sometimes called Grand-Design spirals. Grand-design spirals are typically seen close to face-on orientation. The heavy spiral structure is typically caused by recent bursts of star formation, following interaction with neighboring galaxies. Examples from Messier's catalog include M51, M74, M83, M100, and M101.
Small dark nebula which occurs in or near starforming regions in diffuse nebulae.
Outer region around an object. In particular, see Galactic Halo.
Herbig-Haro Object, HH Object:
Small emission nebulae with high velocities (several 100 km/s), formed by bow shocks when fast-flowing jets of ejected material from a young star collides with interstellar matter. The matter is typically ejected along the rotation axis of the young star, and the emission occurs from recombination of ions behind the bow shock. They are named for American astronomer George Howard Herbig (1920-) and Mexican astronomer Guillermo Haro (1913-88).
HRD, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram:
Diagram for stars after their absolute brightness (luminosity) versus their spectral class (color, surface temperature), named after its inventors, Hertzsprung and Russell.
LINER, Low-Ionization Nuclear Emission Region:
Galactic nucleus with a characteristic emission line spectrum, dominated by low-ionization states (O II, N II, S II) and only weak emission lines from higher-ionization states (He II, O III, N III). The spectrum indicates Seyfert-like activity in the nucleus, probably not related to stars, but either the massive central object in the nucleus, or shock waves generated by supernovae; the observed linewidths are similar to those observed in Seyfert galaxies and indicate rapid motion (Spectra as Seyfert 2, except for stronger low-ionization lines). Like Seyfert nuclei, LINERs are more abundant in disk galaxies (spirals and lenticulars) of early types S0, Sa, and Sb than in other types, but much more common. More on LINERs (NED Level 5)
Milky Way Patch:
Portion of the Milky Way that appears as a connected nebulous patch; consisted of stars, clusters and nebulae. This may be simply a lesser obscurred hole in the foreground dust, or a star cloud. A prominent example is M24.
System of closely neighbored stars held together by their mutual gravity. In case of two stars, these are also called binaries or physical double stars, in case of three, triple stars, etc.
Central, dense core of an object. In particular, see Galactic Nucleus.
Gaseous nebula ejected by a sunlike star at the end of its nuclear life, before becoming a White Dwarf star. Named so because they reminded William Herschel to the appearance of planet Uranus. Planetary Nebulae are short-living objects and dissipate into space in a few 10,000s of years.
Various regions in galaxies are composed of different populations of stars: Young stars of second or third generation, enriched with heavy elements gained from earlier generation stars, form population I which is usually found in the disks and spiral arms of galaxies. Old stars of the first generation, populatiion II are typically located in the core and halo of galaxies. Elliptical galaxies are often made totally of population II stars, irregulars like the Magellanic Clouds of pure population I.
Nebula that was created by one or more aged stars, typically at the end or late stages of their nuclear life, when the star ejected matter into the interstellar space. Such matter is typically enriched with heavier elements ("metals") created during the nuclear life of the parent star. Typical examples are Planetary Nebulae and Supernova Remnants, or Wolf-Rayet Nebulae.
Regularly pulsating radio sources, with periods of order seconds or less. They are actually fastly neutron stars with a hot spot, which emits radiation in a cone as the star rotates, and are observable if Earth and our solar system happens lie within the cone.
Diffuse Nebula which shines by the light of nearby stars which is reflected by the dust particles the nebula contains. The brightest, most famous and earliest discovered reflection nebula is M78, the first to be identified as reflection nebula is the reflection nebula associated with the Pleiades M45.
Galaxies (mostly spiral) with extremely bright small nuclei which show broad emission lines in their spectra. In Type I Seyfert galaxies, permitted lines have bright cores which are as broad as forbidden lines, and very wide wings indicating velocities of 5,000 to 10,000 km/s. In type II Seyfert galaxies, these wings are absent and lines are Doppler broadened corresponding to velocities of 500 km/s; type II Seyferts are often strong and variable X ray sources. The brightest Seyfert galaxy, of type II, is M77. Find more information in the Seyfert Galaxy Text page.
A group of stars, bound together by their mutual gravity, occupying a certain volume of space and showing common proper motion. Presumably the stars of a cluster have formed together at about the same time and within the same area of space from a diffuse nebula. Their HRD's are thus isochrones (lines, surfaces or states of constant time) of stellar evolution. One distinguishes open and globular star clusters.
Region of a galaxy which is populated by stars, clusters and nebulae. Star clouds frequently occur in the arms of spiral galaxies, and in irregular galaxies. A prominent example is M24 in the Milky Way or NGC 206 in the Andromeda Galaxy M31.
A galaxy which experiences a current, or has experienced a recent burst, or outburst, of star formation, with star formation rates of up to about 100 times the normal rate. Consequently, starbursts produce large numbers of young stars, including high mass stars of spectral types O and B. Frequently these stars are obscured by interstellar dust, which is heatened by their radiation to a temperature of about 100 K, and therefore shines brightly in the infrared light. Starbursts are probably triggered by gravitational perturbations in encounters with neighboring galaxies. The most prominent example of a Starburst galaxy is M82.
Also Pre-stellar Nebula. Nebula, consisted of Interstellar Matter, from which stars are forming; typically H II regions or Diffuse Nebulae. Special processes in star formation also lead to particular classes like Bipolar Nebulae and Herbig-Haro Objects.
Supercluster (of galaxies):
Stellar explosion which causes a star to flash up rapidly (hours) to the brightness of a whole galaxy (up to absolute magnitudes of about -19 to -20), to fade again slowly (over months) after some time. The term "Supernova" was coined by Baade and Zwicky 1934. Classification from spectral analysis as Type I (no H lines) and II (contains H), where type I is further subdivided into Type Ia (spectrum contains Si lines), Ib (no Si, but Helium), and Ic (no Si, no He). While all supernovae of all 3 subtypes of type I have similar light curves, the light curves of type II give rise to classification of subtypes IIL (linear decrease) and IIP (brightness stays on a constant plateau for some time), and peculiar light curves like that of SN 1987A. Rare subtypes of Type II are II-b which has only little hydrogen in spectrum, and type II-n which has narrow emission lines on top of broad ones, and a slowly and lately declining light curve. There are two causes for supernova explosions:
Supernova Remnant (SNR):
Nebula emitting synchrotron radiation, i.e. radiation emitted by electrons accelerated in strong magnetic fields. Typically found in supernova remnants and cosmic jets.
Strictly speaking, every star is physically variable over timescales of its evolution.
Nebula ejected by a hot (35,000-100,000 K) massive star, called Wolf-Rayet star (after the discoverers of this type), at its later evolutionary stages. Wolf-Rayet stars are recognized from broad, bright emission lines in their spectra.
Last Modification: May 11, 2003