NGC 2685
The Helix Galaxy ~ NGC 2685
Optics:   Ritchey–Chrétien 20" F/8.2 (4166mm FL) Processing:   PixInsight, Photoshop
Camera:   SBIG STXL-11000 with Adaptive Optics Date:   Jan 2017 & Jan 2019
11 Megapixel (4008 x 2672 16-bit sensor) Location:   Columbus, Texas
Exposure:   LRGB = 690:150:140:170 minutes Imager:   Kent E. Biggs
NGC 2685 has been called the Helix Galaxy due to its uniquely and intriguing, tightly wound corkscrew appearance. The galaxy lies in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major, Latin for the “greater bear” or commonly known as the Big Bear, the body of which is the Big Dipper. This galaxy is over 40 million light years away. At 50 thousand light years across it is roughly half the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy.

NGC 2685 is a great example of a polar-ring galaxy in that its ring rotates around the galaxy over its pole. It was one of the earliest galaxies classified as polar-ring. The cigar shaped yellowish center of the galaxy is likely a flat disk with its poles perpendicular to it. Visible here is the star and dust lanes of a likely merged galaxy rotating in a ring formation over those pole, hence the polar-ring name.

NGC 2685 is also an example of a Seyfert Galaxy. Seyferts have very active nuclei similar to quasars. A distinct difference from quasars, however, is that Seferts have detectable surrounding host galaxies, whereas quasars do not. Quasars are so distant and so active that their cores tend to outshine any surrounding stars and other material making up the host galaxy. Perhaps quasars are very early and lonely supermassive black holes ingesting any material around them. One of the studies the James Webb Telescope hopes to achieve is to better understand quasars and other galaxies with very active cores.

Visible also in this image (upper right) is two near edge-on spiral galaxies, PGC 25034 and PGC 25046*. Visual just below NGC 2685 is another near face-on spiral galaxy without a designation. All of these galaxies are likely much further distant. Note to the upper right of NGC 2685 is a small galaxy without much form; it is likely a dwarf satellite galaxy formed from material left over from the ring galaxy’s merger with the other galaxy forming the ring*.

*Using a mouse, hover over the image above for annotations. This hover feature may be unavailable on smart phones.
NGC 2685
This image is an enlarged and centered image of NGC 2685, rotated such as the galaxy poles are oriented up and down.