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ESO's telescope clicks stunning image of six spiral galaxies


The spiral galaxies captured by VLT. An ESO photo

PARIS (BNS): A new stunning image of six spectacular spiral galaxies spreading their arms of dust and glowing gas in the cosmos has been captured by ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in infrared light.

The six galaxies, with variable patters and forms, are part of a study of spiral structure led by Preben Grosbøl at ESO.

The data, acquired by VLT’s powerful Hawk-I camera, is expected to help astronomers understand how the remarkable spiral patterns in galaxies form and evolve.

In the group of galaxies, the first image is that of the NGC 5247 – a spiral galaxy dominated by two huge arms and located 60–70 million light-years away in the zodiacal constellation of Virgo. The galaxy lies face-on towards Earth, thus providing an excellent view of its pinwheel structure.

The second galaxy is NGC 4321, also called Messier 100, which was discovered in the 18th century. It is a fine example of a ‘grand design’ spiral galaxy – a class of galaxies with very prominent and well-defined spiral arms. About 55 million light-years from Earth, Messier 100 is part of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies and lies in the constellation of Coma Berenices.

In the third image is seen spiral galaxy NGC 1300 with its arms extending from the ends of a spectacularly prominent central bar. It is considered an example of ‘barred spiral galaxies’ and lies at a distance of about 65 million light-years in the constellation of Eridanus.

The galaxy in the fourth image, NGC 4030, lies about 75 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Virgo. In 2007, Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut who doubles as an amateur astronomer, spotted a supernova – a stellar explosion that is briefly almost as bright as its host galaxy – going off in this galaxy.

Next in number is NGC 2997, roughly 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Antlia. This is the brightest member of a group of galaxies of the same name in the Local Supercluster of galaxies. Our own Local Group, of which the Milky Way is a member, is itself also part of the Local Supercluster.

And the last spiral galaxy, NGC 1232, is a beautiful ‘intermediate’ spiral galaxy some 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus. The galaxy falls somewhere between a barred and an unbarred spiral galaxy.

The HAWK-I camera has now zoomed in on this last galaxy to show it in at near-infrared wavelengths, ESO said.

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ESO  Galaxy  

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