Types of Galaxies
Galaxies are systems of stars, gas and dust (see for example theSombrero galaxy in Figure 05-01a). They exist in a wide varietyof shapes and sizes. The simplest classification scheme, whichwas devised by Edwin Hubble, recognizes 4 basic types -elliptical, spiral, barred spiral, and irregular and arranges them in asequence called the "tuning fork" diagram.Elliptical galaxies are denotes by the letter E followed by thenumber from 0 to 7 to indicate the degree of flattening of theobserved elliptical shape. An E0 galaxy appears spherical, whereas an E7 galaxy is markedly flattened. The viewing angle addssome complications into this kind of classification, an elongatedellipsoid would appear spherical if seen "end-on".Small ellipticals are "dwarf" systems denoted by "dE". The giantellipticals are designated as "cD". This class of galaxies usuallydoes not contain much interstellar matter.Spiral galaxies, denote by S, have a central nucleussurrounded by a flattened disc with the stars, gas, anddust organized into a pattern of spiral arms. They arecategorized according to the size of the nuclear bulge,the tightness of the spiral pattern, and the degree of "patchiness" in their arms. S0 is the transitional typecalled lenticular galaxy. An "Sa" galaxy has a largecentral nucleus and tightly wound, relatively smooth,arms; an "Sb" galaxy has a somewhat smaller nucleusand less tight arms that often contain conspicuous HIIregions and clusters of hot young stars; and an "Sc"galaxy has a relatively small nucleus and loosely wound"knotty" arms dominated by numerous HII regions andyouthful clumps of stars. In barred spirals, denoted by"SB", the arms emerge from the ends of what looks likea rigid bar of luminous matter that straddles the nucleus.Irregular galaxies, which have no obvious nucleus or ordered structure, are denoted by "Irr" and are broadlysubdivided into "Irr I" and "Irr II". Irr I galaxies displayevidence of recent or ongoing star formation(e.g., OB associations (young stars) and HII regions(luminous nebulas)); Irr II galaxies have a disturbedappearance, and their shapes seem to have been distorted by violent internal activity or by collisions or closeencounters with other galaxies.