Portrait of an imperfect but beautiful spiral

Not all spiral galaxies have to be picture-perfect to be striking. Messier 96, also known as NGC 3368, is a case in point: its core is displaced from the centre, its gas and dust are distributed asymmetrically and its spiral arms are ill-defined. But this portrait, taken with the FORS1 instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, shows that imperfection is beauty in Messier 96. The galaxy's core is compact but glowing, and the dark dust lanes around it move in a delicate swirl towards the nucleus. And the spiral arms, patchy rings of young blue stars, are like necklaces of blue pearls.  

Messier 96 lies in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is the largest galaxy in the Leo I group of galaxies; including its outermost spiral arms, it spans some 100 000 light-years in diameter — about the size of our Milky Way. Its graceful imperfections likely result from the gravitational pull of other members in the group, or are perhaps due to past galactic encounters. 

A multitude of background galaxies peers through the dusty spiral. Perhaps the most striking of these objects is an edge-on galaxy that — because of a chance alignment — appears to interrupt the outermost spiral arm to the upper left of Messier 96's core.

This image was processed by ESO using the observational data found by Oleg Maliy from Ukraine, who participated in ESO's Hidden Treasures 2010 astrophotography competition [1], organised in October–November 2010, for everyone who enjoys making beautiful images of the night sky using astronomical data obtained with professional telescopes. The image was made with data taken at visible and infrared wavelengths through B, V, and I filters. 

Notes

[1] ESO’s Hidden Treasures 2010 competition gave amateur astronomers the opportunity to search through ESO’s vast archives of astronomical data, hoping to find a well-hidden gem that needed polishing by the entrants. To find out more about Hidden Treasures, visit http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/hiddentreasures/.

Kilde:

ESO/Oleg Maliy

Om bildet

ID:potw1143a
Type:Observasjon
Publiseringsdato:24. oktober 2011 10:00
Størrelse:2045 x 2044 px

Om objektet

Navn:Messier 96, NGC 3368
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Avstand:35 million lysår
Constellation:Leo
Kategori:Galaxies

Bildeformater

Stor JPEG
1,4 MB
Medium JPEG
196,9 KB

Zoombart


Skrivebordsbakgrunner

1024x768
179,4 KB
1280x1024
328,2 KB
1600x1200
566,6 KB
1920x1200
786,1 KB
2048x1536
878,6 KB

Koordinater

Position (RA):10 46 45.76
Position (Dec):11° 49' 11.96"
Field of view:6.83 x 6.83 arcminutes
Orientering:Nord er 0.1° til høyre for vertikalen

Farger og filtre

BåndTeleskop
Optisk
B
Very Large Telescope
FORS1
Optisk
V
Very Large Telescope
FORS1
Infrarødt
I
Very Large Telescope
FORS1