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"Great Dog" redirects here. For the island in the British Virgin Islands, see Great Dog Island.
For the island in Tasmania, see Great Dog Island (Tasmania).

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Canis Major /kens medr/ is a constellation in

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the southern celestial hemisphere. In the second

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century, it was included in Ptolemy 's 48


constellations, and is counted among the 88 modern

constellations. Its name is Latin for "greater dog" in

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contrast to Canis Minor , the "lesser dog"; both figures

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are commonly represented as following the

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constellation of Orion the hunter through the sky. The


Canis Major


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07 h 00 m 00 s, 20 00 00

Coordinates :

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Milky Way passes through Canis Major and several

open clusters lie within its borders, most notably

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M41, which covers an area around the same size as

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the full moon.

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Special pages

Canis Major contains

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night sky, known as the "dog star". It is bright because

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of its proximity to our Solar System. In contrast, the

Wikidata item

other bright stars of the constellation are stars of great

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Sirius , the brightest star

in the

distance and high luminosity . At magnitude 1.5,

List of stars in Canis Major




Canis Majoris


/kens medr/, genitive

/kens mdrs /

Epsilon Canis Majoris (Adhara) is the second

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brightest star of the constellation and the brightest


the greater dog

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source of extreme ultraviolet radiation in the night

Right ascension

06 h12.5 m to 07 h27.5 m[1]


11.03 to 33.25[1]






380 sq. deg. ( 43rd )

Main stars




Printable version


sky. Next in brightness are the yellow-white

supergiant Delta (Wezen) at 1.8, the blue-white giant
Beta (Mirzam) at 2.0, blue-white supergiants


(Aludra) at 2.4 and Omicron 1 at 3.0, and white

spectroscopic binary Zeta (Furud), also at 3.0. The

red hypergiant VY Canis Majoris is one of the largest

stars known, while the neutron star RX J0720.4-3125


has a radius of a mere 5km.



1 History and mythology
1.1 In western astronomy
1.2 In non-western astronomy

Stars with planets 7

Stars brighter
than 3.00m

Stars within 10.00 1

pc (32.62 ly)

2 Characteristics

Brightest star

Sirius ( CMa)(1.46m)

3 Notable features

Nearest star

Sirius ( CMa)

(8.60 ly,2.64 pc )

Messier objects

Meteor showers




3.1 Stars
3.2 Deep-sky objects
4 Notes
4.1 Cited texts[04/01/2015 15:55:40]

Canis Major - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


5 External links







History and mythology


Visible at latitudes between +

Bahasa Indonesia

60 and 90 .

Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of

In western astronomy [edit]


In ancient Mesopotamia , Sirius, named KAK.SI.DI

by the Babylonians , was seen as an arrow aiming towards Orion, while the southern stars of Canis


Major and a part of Puppis were viewed as a bow, named BAN in the Three Stars Each

to around 1100 BC. In the later compendium of Babylonian astronomy and astrology titled MUL.APIN ,

Basa Jawa

the arrow, Sirius, was also linked with the warrior Ninurta , and the bow with Ishtar , daughter of Enlil.[2]
Ninurta was linked to the later deity

tablets, dating

Marduk , who was said to have slain the ocean goddess Tiamat with


a great bow, and worshipped as the principal deity in Babylon.[3] The Ancient Greeks replaced the bow


and arrow depiction with that of a dog.[4]


In Greek Mythology, Canis Major represented the dog


sometimes the hound of Procris , Diana's nymph; or the one given by


for its speed that Zeus elevated it to the




Laelaps , a gift from Zeus to Europa ; or

Aurora to Cephalus , so famed

It was also considered to represent one of Orion's hunting

pursuing Lepus the Hare or helping Orion fight Taurus the Bull; and is referred to in this way

by Aratos , Homer and Hesiod . The ancient Greeks refer only to one dog, but by

Roman times, Canis

Minor appears as Orion's second dog. Alternative names include Canis Sequens and Canis Alter.[5]
Bahasa Melayu

Norsk bokml
Norsk nynorsk

Canis Syrius was the name used in the 1521 Alfonsine tables .[5]
The Roman myth refers to Canis Major as

Custos Europae , the dog guarding Europa but failing to

prevent her abduction by Jupiter in the form of a bull, and as Janitor Lethaeus , "the watchdog".

Alcheleb Alachbar by 17th century writer Edmund Chilmead . Islamic scholar Ab Rayn al-Brn
referred to Orion as

Al Kalb al Jabbr, "the Dog of the Giant".[5] Among the Merazig of Tunisia ,

shepherds note six constellations that mark the passage of the dry, hot season. One of them, called

Merzem , includes the stars of Canis Major and Canis Minor and is the herald of two weeks of hot




In non-western astronomy [edit]

Simple English
/ srpski
Srpskohrvatski /


Canis Major lies in the Vermilion Bird (,

Nn Fng Zh Qu), where the stars were classified in several separate asterisms of stars. The Military

In Chinese astronomy , the modern constellation of

Market (Jnsh ) was a circular pattern of stars containing Nu 3, Beta , Xi1 and Xi2, and some stars
from Lepus.[9] The Wild Cockerel ( Yj
) was at the centre of the Military Market, although it is
uncertain which stars depicted what. Schlegel reported that the stars Omicron and Pi Canis Majoris
might have been them,


while Beta or Nu 2 have also been proposed.[11] Sirius was Tinlng (),

the Celestial Wolf,[12] denoting invasion and plunder.


Southeast of the Wolf was the asterism Hsh

(), the celestial Bow and Arrow, which was interpreted as containing Delta , Epsilon , Eta and
Kappa Canis Majoris and Delta Velorum . Alternatively, the arrow was depicted by Omicron 2 and Eta
and aiming at Sirius (the Wolf), while the bow comprised Kappa, Epsilon, Sigma , Delta and 164 Canis
Majoris, and Pi and Omicron Puppis .[13]

Both the Mori people and the people of the


distinct entity, though it was sometimes absorbed into other constellations. Te Huinga-o-Rehua, also

Ting Vit


medieval Arab astronomy, the constellation became Al Kalb al Akbar, "the Greater Dog", transcribed as




called Te Putahi-nui-o-Rehua

Tuamotus recognized the figure of Canis Major as a

and Te Kahui-Takurua ,
("The Assembly of Rehua" or "The Assembly of

Sirius") was a Maori constellation that included both Canis Minor and Canis Major, along with
surrounding stars.[14][15] Related was Taumata-o-Rehua , also called Pukawanui , the Mirror of Rehua,
formed from an undefined group of stars in Canis Major.[16][17] They called Sirius Rehua and Takarua ,
corresponding to two of the names for the constellation, though Rehua was a name applied to other[04/01/2015 15:55:40]

Canis Major - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edit links

stars in various Maori groups and other Polynesian cosmologies.[18][19] The Tuamotu people called
Canis Major Muihanga-hetika-o-Takurua , "the abiding assemblage of Takurua".[20]
The Tharumba people of the

Shoalhaven River

saw three stars of Canis Major as Wunbula (Bat) and his

two wives Murrumbool (Mrs Brown Snake) and Moodtha

(Mrs Black Snake); bored of following their
husband around, the women try to bury him while he is hunting a wombat down its hole. He spears them
and all three are placed in the sky as the constellation Munowra .[21] To the Boorong people of Victoria,
Sigma Canis Majoris was Unurgunite , and its flanking stars Delta and Epsilon were his two wives.[22]
The moon (Mityan, "native cat ") sought to lure the further wife (Epsilon) away, but Unurgunite
assaulted him and he has been wandering the sky ever since.[23]



Canis Major is a constellation in the Southern

Hemisphere's summer (or northern
hemisphere's winter) sky, bordered by
Monoceros (which lies between it and Canis
Minor) to the north, Puppis to the east and
southeast, Columba to the southwest, and
Lepus to the west. The three-letter
abbreviation for the constellation, as adopted
by the International Astronomical Union in
1922, is 'CMa'.[24] The official constellation
boundaries, as set by Eugne Delporte


1930, are defined by a quadrilateral; in the

equatorial coordinate system

, the right

Canis Major as depicted in Urania's Mirror, a set of

constellation cards published in London c.1825. Next
to it are Lepus and Columba (partly cut off).

ascension coordinates of these borders lie

between 06h12.5 m and 07h27.5 m, while the declination coordinates are between 11.03 and
33.25.[1] Covering 380 square degrees or 0.921% of the sky, it ranks 43rd of the 88 currentlyrecognized constellations in size.[25]

Notable features


Stars [edit]
See also: List of stars in Canis Major
Canis Major is a prominent constellation because of its many
bright stars. These include Sirius (Alpha Canis Majoris), the
brightest star in the night sky, as well as three other stars
above magnitude 2.0.[6]
Furthermore, two other stars are
thought to have previously outshone all others in the night
skyAdhara (Epsilon Canis Majoris) shone at -3.99 around
4.7 million years ago, and Mirzam (Beta Canis Majoris)

peaked at 3.65 around 4.42 million years ago. Another,

NR Canis Majoris , will be brightest at magnitude 0.88 in
about 2.87 million years' time.[26]
The German cartographer

Johann Bayer used the Greek

letters Alpha through Omicron

to label the most prominent

The constellation Canis Major as it

can be seen by the naked eye

stars in the constellation, including three

adjacent stars as
Nu and two further pairs as Xi and Omicron,[27]
subsequent observers designated further stars in the[04/01/2015 15:55:40]

Canis Major - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

southern parts of the constellation that were hard to discern

from Central


Bayer's countryman Johann Elert Bode

the French astronomer


Nicolas Louis de Lacaille

later added Sigma, Tau and Omega;[28]

added lettered stars a to k (though none are in use

John Flamsteed numbered 31 stars, with 3 Canis Majoris being placed by Lacaille into

Columba as Delta Columbae (Flamsteed had not recognised Columba as a distinct constellation).[29] He
also labelled two starshis 10 and 13 Canis Majoris as Kappa

and Kappa2 respectively, but

subsequent cartographers such as Francis Baily and John Bevis dropped the fainter former star, leaving
Kappa2 as the sole Kappa.


Flamsteed's listing of Nu


Nu2, Nu 3, Xi1, Xi2, Omicron 1 and Omicron

have all remained in use.[30]

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky

at apparent magnitude

1.46 and one of the closest stars to

Earth at a distance of 8.6 light-years . Its name comes from the Greek word for "scorching" or "searing".
Sirius is also a binary star ; its companion Sirius B is a white dwarf with a magnitude of 8.410,000
times fainter than Sirius A to observers on Earth.[31] The two orbit
each other every 50 years. Their
closest approach last occurred in 1993
and they will be at their greatest separation between 2020 and
2025. Sirius was the basis for the ancient Egyptian calendar

.[6] The star marked the Great Dog's mouth

on Bayer's star atlas.[32]

Flanking Sirius are Beta and
Beta Cephei variable
period of six

Gamma Canis Majoris . Also called Mirzam or Murzim, Beta is a blue-white

star of magnitude 2.0, which varies by a few hundredths of a magnitude over a


is 500 light-years from Earth, and its traditional name means "the

announcer", referring to its position as the "announcer" of Sirius,

as it rises a few minutes before Sirius
does.[6] Gamma, also known as Muliphein, is a fainter star of magnitude 4.12, in reality a blue-white
bright giant of spectral type B8IIe located 441 light-years from earth.[34] Iota Canis Majoris ,
between Sirius and Gamma, is another star that has been classified as a Beta Cephei variable, varying
from magnitude 4.36 to 4.40 over a period of 1.92 hours.[35] It is a remote blue-white

supergiant star

spectral type B3Ib, around 46,000 times as luminous as the sun and, at 2500 light-years distant, 300
times further away than Sirius.[36]
Epsilon, Omicron 2, Delta and Eta Canis Majoris were called

Al Adzari "the virgins" in medieval Arabic

Marking the dog's right thigh on Bayer's atlas is Epsilon Canis Majoris,[32]
also known as

Adhara. At magnitude 1.5, it is the second-brightest star

in Canis Major and the 23rd-brightest star in the
sky. It is a blue-white supergiant of spectral type B2Iab, around 404 light-years from Earth.[38] This star
is one of the brightest known extreme ultraviolet sources in the sky.[39]
It is a binary star; the secondary
is of magnitude 7.4. Its traditional
name means "the virgins", having been transferred from the group of

stars to Epsilon alone.[40]

Nearby is Delta Canis Majoris, also called Wezen. It is a yellow-white

supergiant of spectral type F8Iab and magnitude 1.84, around 1605 light-years from Earth.[41]
With a
traditional name meaning "the weight", Wezen is 17 times as massive and 50,000 times as luminous as
the Sun. If located in the centre of the Solar System, it would extend out to Earth as its diameter
is 200
times that of the Sun. Only around 10 million years old, Wezen has stopped fusing hydrogen in its core.
Its outer envelope is beginning
to expand and cool, and in the next 100,000 years it will become a red

supergiant as its core fuses heavier and heavier elements. Once it has a
core of iron, it will collapse and
explode as a supernova .[42] Nestled between Adhara and Wezen lies Sigma Canis Majoris, known as
Unurgunite to the Boorong and Wotjobaluk people,[22] a red supergiant of spectral type K7Ib that varies
irregularly between magnitudes 3.43 and 3.51.[43]
Also called Aludra, Eta Canis Majoris is a blue-white supergiant of spectral type B5Ia with a luminosity
176,000 times and diameter around 80 times that of the Sun.[44] Classified as an

Alpha Cygni type

variable star , Aludra varies in brightness from magnitude 2.38 to 2.48 over a period of 4.7 days.[45] It is
located 1120 light-years away. To the west of Adhara lies 3.0-magnitude Zeta Canis Majoris or Furud,
around 362 light-years distant from Earth.[46]
It is a spectroscopic binary, whose components orbit each
other every 1.85 years, the combined spectrum indicating a main star of spectral type B2.5V.[47][04/01/2015 15:55:40]

Canis Major - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Between these stars and Sirius lie

Omicron 1, Omicron 2, and Pi Canis Majoris. Omicron 2 is a massive

supergiant star about 21 times as massive as the Sun.[48] Only 7 million years old,
the supply of hydrogen at its core and is now processing



it has exhausted

has an Alpha Cygni variable that

undergoes periodic non-radial pulsations, which cause its brightness to cycle from magnitude 2.93 to

3.08 over a 24.44-day interval.[49] Omicron 1 is an orange K-type supergiant of spectral type K2.5Iab
that is an irregular variable star, varying between apparent magnitudes 3.78 and 3.99.[50] Around 18
times as massive as the Sun, it shines with 65,000 times its luminosity .[51]
North of Sirius lie Theta and Mu Canis Majoris , Theta being the most northerly star with a Bayer
designation in the constellation.[52]
Around 8 billion years old, it is an orange giant of spectral type

K4III that is around as massive as the Sun but has expanded to 30 times the Sun's diameter.[53] Mu is a
multiple star system located around 1244 light-years distant,[54] its components discernible in a small
telescope as a 5.3-magnitude yellow-hued and 7.1-magnitude bluish star.[55] The brighter star is a giant
of spectral type K2III,[54] while the companion is a main sequence star of spectral type B9.5V.[56] Nu
Canis Majoris
is a yellow-hued giant star of magnitude 5.7, 278 light-years away; it is at the threshold of
naked-eye visibility. It has a companion of magnitude 8.1.[6]
At the southern limits of the constellation lie Kappa and

Lambda Canis Majoris. Although of similar

spectra and nearby each other as viewed from Earth, they are unrelated.[25] Kappa is a Gamma
Cassiopeiae variable of spectral type B2Vne,
from magnitude 3.96 or so to
type main sequence dwarf
Earth .[59]



which brightened by 50% between 1963 and 1978,

It is around 659 light-years distant.


Lambda is a blue-white B-

with an apparent magnitude of 4.48 located around 423 light-years from

It is 3.7 times as wide as and 5.5 times as massive as the Sun, and shines with 940 times its

Canis Major is also home to many variable stars.

EZ Canis Majoris is a WolfRayet star

of spectral type

WN4 that varies between magnitudes 6.71 and 6.95 over a

period of 3.766 days; the cause of its
variability is unknown but thought to be related to its stellar wind and rotation.[60] VY Canis Majoris
one of the largest stars known, a remote red supergiant located around 3800 light-years away from
Earth. Estimates of its size, mass and
luminosity have varied, with figures of 600 to 3000 times the
radius, and 60,000 to 500,000 times the luminosity of the Sun. It was observed in 2011 using
interferometry with the Very Large Telescope ,
yielding a radius of 1420 120 solar radii, surface
of around 3490 K (and hence spectral type M4Ia) and a luminosity 270,000 times that of the
Sun. Its current mass has been revised at 925 solar masses, having shed material from an initial 1535
solar masses.[61] W Canis Majoris is a type of red giant known as a carbon star a semiregular variable,
it ranges between magnitudes 6.27 and 7.09 over a period of 160 days.[62]
A cool star, it has a surface
temperature of around 2900 K and a radius
234 times that of the Sun, its distance estimated at 1444
1450 light-years from Earth.[63] At the other extreme in size is
radius of around


RX J0720.4-3125, a neutron star with a

Exceedingly faint, it has an apparent magnitude of 26.6.


spectrum and

temperature appear to be mysteriously changing over several years. The nature of the changes are
unclear, but it is possible
they were caused by an event such as the star's absorption of an accretion
Tau Canis Majoris is a Beta Lyrae-type eclipsing multiple star system that varies from magnitude 4.32 to
4.37 over 1.28 days.[66]
Its four main component stars are hot O-type stars, with a combined mass 80
times that of the Sun and shining with 500,000 times its luminosity, but little is known of their
individual properties. A fifth component, a magnitude 10 star, lies at a distance of 13,000 astronomical
units (0.21 ly). The system is only 5 million years old.[33] UW Canis Majoris is another Beta Lyrae-type
star 3000 light-years from Earth; it is an eclipsing binary that ranges in magnitude from a minimum of
5.3 to a maximum of 4.8. It has a period of 4.4 days;[6] its components are two massive hot blue stars,
one a blue supergiant
of spectral type O7.5-8 Iab, while its companion is a slightly cooler, less evolved
and less luminous supergiant of spectral type O9.7Ib. The stars are 200,000 and 63,000 times as[04/01/2015 15:55:40]

Canis Major - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

luminous as the Sun. However the fainter star is the more massive at 19 solar masses

to the primary's

R Canis Majoris is another eclipsing binary that varies from magnitude 5.7 to 6.34 over 1.13


a third star orbiting these two every 93 years. The shortness of the orbital period and the

low ratio between the two main components make this an unusual Algol-type system.[69]
Seven star systems have been found to have planets.

Nu 2 Canis Majoris is an ageing orange giant of

spectral type K1III of apparent magnitude 3.91 located around 64 light-years distant.[70]
Around 1.5
times as massive and 11 times as luminous as the Sun, it is orbited over a period of 763 days by a planet
2.6 times as massive as Jupiter.[71] HD 47536
is likewise an ageing orange giant found to have a
planetary systemechoing the fate of our own Solar System in a few billion years as the Sun ages and
becomes a giant.[72] Conversely, HD 45364
is a star 107 light-years distant that is a little smaller and
cooler than the Sun, of spectral type G8V, which has two planets discovered in 2008. With orbital
periods of 228 and 342 days, the planets have a 3:2 orbital resonance, which helps stabilise the
system.[73] HD 47186 is another sunlike star with two planets; the innerHD 47186 b takes four days
to complete an orbit and has been classified as a Hot Neptune , while the outer HD 47186 c has an
eccentric 3.7-year period orbit and has a similar mass to Saturn .[74] HD 43197 is a sunlike star around
183 light-years distant that has a Jupiter-size planet with an eccentric orbit.[75]
Z Canis Majoris is a star system a mere 300,000 years old composed of two pre-main-sequence stars
FU Orionis star and a Herbig Ae/Be star
magnitude 8 in 1987, 2000, 2004 and


which has brightened episodically by two magnitudes to


more massive Herbig Ae/Be star is enveloped in an

irregular roughly
spherical cocoon of dust that has an inner diameter of 20AU (3.0 10 9km) and outer
diameter of 50AU (7.5 10 9km).
The cocoon has a hole in it through which light shines that covers an

angle of 5 to 10 degrees of its circumference. Both stars are surrounded

by a large envelope of in-falling
material left over from the original cloud that formed the system. Both stars are emitting jets of material,
that of the Herbig Ae/Be star being much larger11.7 light-years long.[78] Meanwhile, FS Canis
is another star with infra-red emissions indicating a compact shell of dust, but it appears to be a
main-sequence star that has absorbed material from a companion. These stars are thought to be
significant contributors to interstellar dust.[79]

Deep-sky objects [edit]

The band of the Milky Way goes through Canis Major, with only patchy obscurement by interstellar dust

clouds. It is bright in the northeastern corner of the constellation, as well as in a triangular area between
Adhara, Wezen and Aludra, with many stars visible in binoculars. Canis Major boasts several open
clusters.[80] The only Messier object is M41 (NGC 2287), an open cluster with a combined visual
of 4.5, around 2300 light-years from Earth. Located 4 degrees south of Sirius, it contains
contrasting blue, yellow and orange stars and covers
an area the apparent size of the full moon in
reality around 25 light-years in diameter.[81]
Its most luminous stars have already evolved into giants.
The brightest
is a 6.3-magnitude star of spectral type K3. Located in the field is 12 Canis Majoris ,
though this star is only 670 light-years distant.[82] NGC 2360 , known as Caroline's Cluster after its
discoverer Caroline Herschel ,
is an open cluster located 3.5 degrees west of Muliphein and has a

combined apparent magnitude of 7.2. Around 15 light-years in diameter, it is located 3700 light-years
away from Earth,[83] and has been dated to around 2.2 billion years old.[84] NGC 2362
is a small,
compact open cluster, 5200 light-years from Earth. It contains about 60 stars, of which Tau Canis
Majoris is the brightest member.[6]
Located around 3 degrees northeast of Wezen, it covers an area
around 12 light-years in diameter, though the stars appear huddled around Tau when seen through
binoculars. It is a very young open cluster as its member stars are only a few million years old. Lying 2
degrees southwest
of NGC 2362 is NGC 2354 a fainter open cluster of magnitude 6.5, with around 15
member stars visible with binoculars.[81] Located around 30' northeast of NGC 2360,
(Thor's Helmet or the Duck Nebula) is a relatively bright emission nebula


NGC 2359

in Canis Major, with an

approximate magnitude of 10, which is 10,000 light-years from Earth. The nebula is shaped by HD[04/01/2015 15:55:40]

Canis Major - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

56925, an unstable Wolf-Rayet star embedded within it.


In 2003, an overdensity of stars in the region was announced

to be the Canis Major Dwarf , the closest satellite galaxy
Earth. However, there remains debate over whether it
represents a disrupted dwarf galaxy or in fact a variation in
the thin and thick disk
and spiral arm populations of the
Milky Way. Investigation of the area yielded only ten RR
Lyrae variablesconsistent with the Milky Way's halo and
thick disk populations rather than a separate dwarf
spheroidal galaxy.[88] On the other hand, a globular cluster
in Puppis, NGC 2298 which
appears to be part of the
Canis Major dwarf systemis extremely metal-poor,

ESO 489-056 is an irregular dwarf

galaxy, located 16 million light-years

suggesting it did not arise from the Milky Way's thick disk,
and instead is of extragalactic origin.[89]
NGC 2207 and IC 2163

are a pair of face-on

spiral galaxies located 125 million light-years

from Earth. About 40 million years ago, the two galaxies had a close encounter and are now moving
farther apart; nevertheless, the smaller IC 2163 will eventually be incorporated into NGC 2207. As the
interaction continues, gas and dust will be perturbed, sparking extensive star formation in both
galaxies.[90] Supernovae have been observed in NGC 2207 in 1975 (type Ia SN 1975a ),[91] 1999 (the
type Ib SN 1999ec),[92] 2003 (type 1b supernova

SN 2003H ),[93] and 2013 (type II supernova SN

2013ai).[94] Located 16 million light-years distant,[87] ESO 489-056 is an irregular dwarf- and lowsurface-brightness galaxy that has one of the lowest


metallicities known. [95]


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