NGC 6946

NGC 6946

The Fireworks Galaxy

NGC 6946 is a spiral galaxy in Cepheus located about 10 million light-years away. It is about 40,000 light-years across, and is therefore smaller than our Milky Way galaxy. But do not be misled by its small size. This galaxy has stars exploding in it like firecrackers. The death rate of stars in this galaxy is particularly high. At least nine supernovae have been discovered in NGC 6946, while during that same period of time no supernovae have been observed in the Milky Way galaxy. The stellar pyrotechnics occurring in this galaxy as a result of the frequent supernovae explosions have earned this galaxy the name of the Fireworks Galaxy. NGC 6946 is the most prolific known galaxy for supernovae during the past 100 years, with supernova explosions occurring in 1917, 1939, 1948, 1968, 1969, 1980, 2002, and 2004. As a result, NGC 6946 is ablaze with colorful galactic fireworks fueled by the births and deaths of multitudes of brilliant, massive stars.

This is an LRGB color composite CCD image taken with a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor using an SBIG ST-8E CCD. The exposures for this image were taken over the course of more than one night.

NGC 6946
Constellation: Cepheus
Magnitude: 9.9
RA: 20h 34m 50.9s Dec: +60d 09' 27"
February 29 and March 21 & 26, 2004
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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