March 2008

The captivating appearance of this image of the starburst galaxy NGC 1313 belies its inner turmoil. Its spiral arms look lop-sided and gas globules are spread out widely around them. The spiral arms are a hotbed of star-forming activity, with numerous young clusters of hot stars being born continuously at a staggering rate out of the dense clouds of gas and dust. Their light blasts through the surrounding gas, creating an intricately beautiful pattern of light and dark nebulosity. NGC 1313 is an altogether very intriguing target for astronomy. This image, obtained with ESO's Very Large Telescope, demonstrates once again how the imager FORS is ideally suited to capturing the beauty and stunning complexity of galaxies by observing them in different wavelength filters, combined here to form a stunning colour image.

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