OR: Adventures in the White Mountains (Part II)
by Steve Gottlieb

This is the second part of my observing report from a trip to Grandview campground in the White Mountains on August 30 to Sept 3 2016. We were fortunate to observe under 4 consecutive clear, transparent nights at 8600 ft with SQM-L readings in the 21.70 - 21.82 range. This photo was taken at a view point just up the White Mountain road from the campground. Besides the stunning vistas of the eastern Sierras, it’s the only nearby location to get a reliable cell signal, so we also jokingly call it the cell phone lot.


The following observations are from Thursday and Friday (Sep 1 and 2) nights with my 24-inch f/3.7 Starmaster (photo above at campground). I left on Saturday for the long drive back to the San Francisco area but Jimi Lowrey mentioned to me that Saturday night, which as looking very iffy when I left, was also clear.

— Steve Gottlieb     

UGC 12281 = FGC 2441
22 59 12.8 +13 36 24
V = 14.2; Size 3.2'x0.2'; Surf Br = 13.6; PA = 30°

UGC 12281 is a superthin galaxy - a classification introduced in 1981 by astronomers Jean Goad and Morton Roberts. These very late-type spiral (Sc or Sd) are bulgeless galaxies seen perfectly edge-on have axial ratios from 9:1 to 20:1 Typically they have very low surface brightness, which also implies a low star formation rate. But UGC 12281 is a bit of an enigma as a it has a remarkable amount of current star formation. A recent study suggests an interaction with a nearby dwarf companion may have triggered this result.

UGC 12281 is also one of the thinnest galaxies in the Flat Galaxy Catalogue (FGC) with an axial ratio of 17 to 1! At 220x it appeared extremely to very faint; extremely thin streak ~1.5'x0.1' SW-NE, slightly brighter center. Could nearly hold steadily with averted and concentration. A mag 14.2 star is just west of the southwest end. A mag 13.2 star is 1.1' W of center. I had previously observed this galaxy with my 18” Starmaster from the Bumpass Hell parking lot at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

NGC 7250
22 18 17.8 +40 33 45
V = 12.6; Size 1.7'x0.8'; Surf Br = 12.8; PA = 157°

This starburst galaxy or possible interacting pair is located in Lacerta less than 1’ NW of a mag 10.9 star! At 200x it appeared moderately bright, elongated 5:2 N-S, 0.7'x0.3', bright core. A small, very faint knot or extension is at the north end. A mag 10.9 star is 0.9' SE of center. At 375x; the "knot" attached on the west side of north end of the galaxy extends ~20"x10" NNW-SSE (slightly different PA than the main galaxy), increasing the total size of the merged glow to nearly 1.0'x0.3'. HyperLeda catalogues the object at the north end separately as a galaxy (PGC 214816), though on the SDSS it appears to be a collection of blue (star-forming) knots. While in the area check out NGC 7248, which is located 17' WSW.

II Zw 92
20 48 05.7 +00 04 08
V = 16.1; Size 0.5'x0.15'; PA = 30°

This Saturn look-alike resides in Aquarius at a distance of ~340 million l.y. The classification is a Polar Ring (PRG), a rare type of galaxy with an early type disc galaxy (S0 or Sa) surrounded by a bluish ring of stars, gas and dust orbiting perpendicular to the disc. The formation process is not fully understood but probably involves the interaction of two galaxies.

At 220x and 375x, I immediately picked up the central (host) galaxy of this Polar Ring galaxy as a very faint, round glow, only ~8" diameter. Occasionally the (blue) polar ring component was seen as extremely faint and thin extensions SW-NE, increasing the dimensions to ~20"x8". Located 9' SW of mag 7.9 HD 198153 and 18' SE of the bright pair NGC 6962/6964.

CGCG 459-066 Triplet
01 30 16 +20 35 49
Size 30” (total)

This compact triplet, which is squeezed into a 30" circle, resides in Pisces at a distance of ~650 million light years. The three components were resolved at 375x. LEDA 1631504, the western component was extremely faint and small, round, 8" diameter. This was the faintest in the triplet and it took some effort to detect. LEDA 1631594, just 22" NE, was the brightest of the triplet. It was easily visible as a faint, very small, round glow, 15" diameter, containing a faint stellar nucleus. 2MASX J01301684+2035423, on the east side, was very faint, extremely small, round, 8" diameter. A mag 13.4 star is 1.4' NW of the trio. You can see German amateur Uwe Glahn's sketch with his 27-inch at 419x here and Alvin Huey’s observing notes with his 22-inch here.

Arp 110 = MCG -03-58-011
22 54 08.9 -15 14 14
V = 14.5; Size 0.7'x0.5'; Surf Br = 13.2; PA = 63°

Arp placed this odd-looking galaxy in his class "Elliptical and Elliptical-like galaxies with repelling spiral arms”. Arp only included 4 galaxies in this class, which is only based on appearance and likely not a physical description. Whatever is going on with this galaxy, it is apparently disturbed by nearby LEDA 913872. Here is Arp’s image using the Palomar 200-inch.

At 220x it appeared fairly faint, fairly small, roundish, 20" diameter, contains a very small brighter nucleus. A mag 15 star is 0.8' S. Forms a close interacting pair with LEDA 913872 just 30" W. At 375x an extremely faint and small glow, ~8" diameter, was visible over 50% of the time once noticed with averted vision. Forms a (physical) triplet with MCG -03-58-010 2.8' SW.

NGC 7647
23 23 57.4 +16 46 38
V = 13.6; Size 1.4'x1.0'; Surf Br = 14.0; PA = 170°

NGC 7647 is fairly faint, fairly small, slightly elongated, 30"x25", gradually increases to the center. With averted vision a very low surface brightness outer halo was detectable.

This galaxy is easily the brightest galaxy (cD-type) in AGC 2589, a richness class 0 cluster at a distance of ~560 million l.y. Surrounding NGC 7647 is a large swarm of very faint galaxies with PGC 71331 (2.1' N), PGC 71337 (2.2' NE), PGC 71326 (1.7' S) and PGC 71317 (2.3' WSW), forming a small rectangle around the bright elliptical. Additionally, I picked up PGC 71320 6.2' NNW, PGC 71324 8.4' N and CGCG 454-062 8.1' SSW. These 7 additional members were very faint or extremely faint and generally 0.2' in size. Here's an amateur image of the central part of the cluster.

NGC 7647 was discovered by William Herschel with his 18.7-inch speculum reflector November 29 1785. On his 480th sweep, he recorded “extremely faint, considerably large, some doubt left. It precedes an irregular row of scattered stars.” He missed the faint companions in the cluster.

UGC 12160
22 40 53.9 +75 09 52
V = 14.8; Size 2.1'x1.7'; Surf Br = 16.0; PA = 13°

UGC 12160 is located 19' SW of mag 5.8 HD 214710 at the eastern edge of cometary-shaped molecular cloud LDN 1251 and associated bright nebula LBN 558. This star-forming region, part of the Cepheus Flare giant molecular cloud complex, contains a number of low-mass YSOs. At 124x (49' field) a very large starless region is centered roughly 8' SW of the 5.8-magnitude star. On images this obscured region extends roughly 45'x15' E-W. In 1995 UGC 12160 was the host of the core-collapse supernova 1995X.

Using 200x UGC 12160 was easily picked up as a fairly faint, moderately large glow, elongated 4:3 ~N-S, 0.8'x0.6', diffuse, weak concentration. Based on the DSS, I picked up the core and inner halo and missed the extremely low surface brightness outer halo.

UGC 11568
20 28 18.7 +10 45 21
V = 13.8; Size 2.1'x0.6'; Surf Br = 13.9; PA = 37°

UGC 11568 is the largest and brightest in a group of four UGC galaxies with UGC 11564 9.6' W, UGC 11572 12.6' E and UGC 11571 11.5' SE.

UGC 11568 appeared fairly faint, fairly large, very elongated 7:2 SW-NE, 1.4'x0.4', bright core. Bracketed by a mag 11 star 3.2' NW and a mag 10.8 star 3.1' E. UGC 11564 is extremely faint, fairly small, very elongated 3:1 WNW-ESE, 30"x10", very low surface brightness. A mag 13.5 star is at the south edge and a mag 12.5 star is 50" SW. This is a close pair of galaxies, though the fainter companion on the west end was not resolved. UGC 11571 is very faint, moderately large, very elongated ~3:1 SSW-NNE, ~45"x15", overall very low surface brightness with a small, slightly brighter core. UGC 11572 is moderately bright, fairly small, round, small bright nucleus, 20" diameter. Third in a line with UGC 11568 12.6' W and UGC 11564 22' W.

NGC 7603 = Arp 92
23 18 56.6 +00 14 38
V = 13.2; Size 1.5'x1.0'; Surf Br = 13.6; PA = 165°

NGC 7603 is a bright Seyfert 1 galaxy. Halton Arp first mentioned a redshift anomaly with this pair in ApL, 7, 221, 1971 (not available online). NGC 7603, the brighter galaxy, has a redshift z = .029 (~390 million ly) while its companion NGC 7603B has a much higher redshift z = .057, placing it about twice the distance (~740 million ly). But there is an apparent luminous bridge connecting the objects that is easily visible on the DSS. Also two quasars with much higher redshifts (z = .391 and z = .243) are embedded exactly on line of sight at the start and end of the bridge. The controversy is discussed in detail on page 84-87 of the Arp Atlas by Kanipe and Webb and a detailed online analysis is here.

NGC 7603 appeared bright, small, round, contains a very small unusually bright core that increases to an extremely bright stellar nucleus! Forms a close (line of sight) pair with NGC 7603B 1.0' SE. The companion appeared extremely to very faint, extremely small, only ~6" diameter, required averted vision (V = 15.9, B = 16.7). I didn’t see the apparent connecting bridge.

IC 214
02 14 05.6 +05 10 24
V = 14.2; Size 0.8'x0.6'; Surf Br = 13.3

This apparent merger was seen as a fairly faint, fairly small glow. The main body is elongated 5:3 NW-SE, ~25"x15". With averted vision, a very low surface brightness, diffuse extension spreads to the north of the main body. With careful viewing it appeared attached to the southeast end of the galaxy. Located 13' NE of mag 6.5 HD 13683.

IC 214 is apparently the disrupted collision or merger of two galaxies with the "main body" catalogued as IC 214 NED1 and the extension to the north is IC 214 NED2 = LEDA 1279289. It forms a pair with LEDA 212941 2.5' WSW. The companion (B = 16.5, 0.6'x0.25') appeared extremely faint, very small, ~15"x10", low surface brightness.

IC 1575 = Arp 231 = VV 642
00 43 33.4 -04 07 04
V = 13.3; Size 0.8'x0.7'; PA = 140°

Arp placed this galaxy in his category "Concentric Ring Galaxies.” These rings are not the dust features in the main disk, but very low surface brightness features in the outer halo. Arp’s image with the 200-inch is here These type of galaxies are known today as “Shell galaxies” and these features are thought to result from the interaction of two galaxies. On the DSS and SDSS, IC 1575 appears to be a post-merger system with a prominent curving dust slicing the galaxy from SW to NE and low surface brightness outer arcs or shells. The NW portion of the system contains the bright nucleus and is listed in NED as IC 1575A = MCG -01-03-002 and the larger SE portion is IC 1575B = MCG -01-03-003.

With 322x the glow is fairly faint, irregularly round, ~25" diameter. A mag 13.3 star is 0.6' S. At the northwest side is a brighter quasi-stellar knot or nucleus of IC 1575A.