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The VLT goes lion hunting

The Very Large Telescope has captured another member of the Leo I group of galaxies, in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). The galaxy Messier 95 stands boldly face-on, offering an ideal view of its spiral structure. The spiral arms form an almost perfect circle around the galactic centre before they spread out, creating a mane-like effect of which any lion would be proud.

Another, perhaps even more striking, feature of Messier 95 is its blazing golden core. It contains a nuclear star-forming ring, almost 2000 light-years across, where a large proportion of the galaxy’s star formation takes place. This phenomenon occurs mostly in barred spiral galaxies such as Messier 95 and our home, the Milky Way.

In the Leo I group, Messier 95 is outshone by its brother Messier 96 (see potw1143). Messier 96 is in fact the brightest member of the group and — as “leader of the pride” — also gives Leo I its alternative name of the M 96 group. Nevertheless, Messier 95 also makes for a spectacular image.

Stop press! By coincidence Messier 95 is the host of a probable supernova that was first spotted on 17 March 2012. Discovery details are here. And as another coincidence both supernova and galaxy are currently very close to the brilliant planet Mars amongst the stars of Leo. Please note that the observations used to make this Picture of the Week were taken before the supernova occurred, and therefore the supernova itself does not appear in this image.

Credit:

ESO

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About the Image

Id:potw1212a
Type:Observation
Release date:19 March 2012, 10:00
Size:2043 x 2044 px

About the Object

Name:Messier 95
Type:• Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
• X - Galaxies
Distance:35 million light years
Constellation:Leo

Image Formats

JPEG grande
2.3 MB
Screensize JPEG
259.8 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
270.7 KB
1280x1024
513.6 KB
1600x1200
887.7 KB
1920x1200
1.2 MB
2048x1536
1.7 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):10 43 57.80
Position (Dec):11° 42' 13.36"
Field of view:6.80 x 6.81 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 89.9° left of vertical
View in WorldWide Telescope:
View in WorldWide Telescope

Colours & filters

BandTelescope
Optical
Pseudogreen (V+I)
Very Large Telescope
FORS1
Optical
V
Very Large Telescope
FORS1
Infrared
I
Very Large Telescope
FORS1

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