ESO 350-40: An Unconventional Cartwheel Galaxy

This was fun project I recently completed. I had seen some great images of the very small Cartwheel Galaxy taken with very large scopes including amazing images from Hubble and JWST. I have been pretty pleased with the resolution I have achieved with some prior images taken with my Nikon 400mm lens and thought it would be interesting to see what my setup could achieve on such a challenging small target. So I embarked on this image shooting a very small galaxy with a very unconventional galaxy scope!

The Cartwheel galaxy is 500 million lightyears away. It has a striking ring structure which is thought to be the results of a head-on collision with a smaller galaxy.  This resulted in a powerful gravitational shockwave that expanded outwards through the galaxy creating its unique structure. This shockwave swept up and compressed dust and gas, resulting in starburst activity which can been seen in the blue outer ring.

The Cartwheel galaxy is part of a group of 4, with its 3 companions (named G1-3) visible in the image.  G3 is the more distant galaxy positioned at ~10 o’clock to the main group and is thought to be the galaxy that plunged through the Cartwheels disc causing the gravitational disruption.

For this image I captured 20 hours of data and this was processed using drizzle integration. I did use BlurX set to a fairly high 0.70 and used some Unsharp Mask sharpening in PS. The final image was also upsized in PS using nearest neighbour resampling. While there aren’t a lot of finer scale features resolved, I did manage to resolve the inner nucleic ring, the outer ring and the connecting spokes which is better than I initially expected. The image could do with some additional integration time to help control noise and better resolve the numerous groups of faint distant galaxies that are visible across the field.

Astrobin Link:

Technical Details

Imaging Telescopes Or Lenses
Nikkor AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

Imaging Cameras

Chroma Filters

10Micron GM1000 HPS

Adobe Photoshop · Pleiades Astrophoto PixInsight · Starkeeper Voyager

Acquisition details
Dates: Oct. 8, 2023 ·  Oct. 9, 2023 ·  Oct. 10, 2023


Integration: 20h 21′


Dunedin, NZ

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