The deep abyss

A generous sprinkling of galaxies on an inky black sky is captured by the Victor M. Blanco four-metre telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Aside from a handful of foreground stars, distinguishable by their diffraction spikes, every object seen here is a galaxy, from the faintest splash of red to the dramatic ring of LEDA 14884.


The deep abyssThis region of sky is in the constellation Eridanus, the River, which is close to the galactic south pole, in the nearby constellation of Sculptor. The LEDA galaxy catalogue refers to the Lyon Extragalactic Database, which contains a list of galaxies and their properties from a variety of separate catalogues (LEDA 14884’s other designations are PGC01484 and ESO303-011.)

As can be seen in this mosaic assembled from images taken by the ‘Dark Energy Camera’ on the Victor M. Blanco telescope, there are hundreds if not thousands of galaxies visible in a patch of sky just 11.62 arcminutes by 7.48 arcminutes in area. The myriad galaxies seen here originally featured as part of the Las Campanas Redshift Survey in the late 1980s and 1990s, which measured the redshifts of 26,418 galaxies in six strips across the sky, covering 700 square degrees in total and focused on the galactic north and south poles. The purpose of the survey was to map the distribution of galaxies, looking for large-scale voids and great walls of galaxies that follow the cosmic web of matter.