It’s a bat! It’s a dragon! It’s UGC 11185!
It’s a bat! It’s a dragon! It’s a galaxy-sized set of crab claws! It’s a complex abstract design blending elements of the Mandelbrot set with classical Persian carpet design!
Or, none of the above. This is the first-cut overlay of two Hubble images of the voorwerpje-hosting AGN in UGC 11185. As usual, [O III] is in green and Hα in red; neither has yet had the contribution of starlight in the galaxy taken out. The inner set of clouds could, with a little imagination, be seen as the ind of two-sided ionization cone seen around many active galactic nuclei. But the outer cloud, the one that selected this object for our sample by extending more than 10 kiloparsecs from the core – this cloud shows pillars, loops, and gaps. (I’d like to acknowledge here the help of STScI program scientist Linda Dressel, in making suggestions for subtle changes to our pointing strategies to reduce problems from such effects as reflections from that bright star on the edge of this image).
Later the same day we first saw the Hubble images, we received additional information on UGC 11185. Colleague Alexei Moiseev (who first showed up on the GZ forum when his team was making sophisticated use of the GZ1 database to seek polar rings) has been getting data on some of these objects with the 6-meter telescope (БТА, Большой Телескоп Азимутальный or BTA) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In the right redshift ranges, they have a Fabry-Perot device which can map the Doppler shifts of a single emission line across the whole galaxy. As supporting data, he also got this multicolor wide-field image, which shows the complicated tidal disturbances in this galaxy pair. The giant loops of stars may indicate that both are partial ring galaxies. UGC 11185 is the upper left one – you can pick out its core the bright star above it, and the glowing gas clouds around the core and to its left.
Alexei also forwarded this image of a familiar field. We’ve been re-examining the faint outer parts of IC 2497 and its companion galaxy, to see what we can learn about the history that pulled gas out where it could be ionized to form Hanny’s Voorwerp. There is a faint tidal tail to the east (left) seen in Hubble images, and now this wider-field and long-exposure BTA image show how far it stretches. Watch this space to see what we can all learn from this.