Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The Colossal Cosmic Eye: ESO's VLT Captures Image Of Spiral Galaxy NGC 1350

Date:
October 4, 2005
Source:
European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Summary:
A new colour image of the beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 1350, shaped as a colossal cosmic eye, has just been released. It is based on data collected with the FORS2 instrument on the Very Large Telescope and shows an amazing number of details. The image is completed by a map of the Fornax Cluster of Galaxies.

A colour-composite of the spiral galaxy NGC 1350 taken with FORS2 at the ESO Very Large Telescope. The image, totalling 16 minutes of observations, clearly reveals the delicate structures in this gigantic "eye" as well as many background galaxies.
Credit: Image courtesy of European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Eighty-five million years ago, our Sun and its solar system was 60,000 light years away from where it now stands [1].

Eighty-fivemillion years ago, in another corner of the Universe, light left thebeautiful spiral galaxy NGC 1350, for a journey across the universe.Part of this light was recorded at the beginning of the year 2000 AD byESO's Very Large Telescope, located on the 2,600m high Cerro Paranal inthe Chilean Andes on planet Earth.

Astronomers classify NGC 1350as an Sa(r) type galaxy, meaning it is a spiral with large centralregions. In fact, NGC 1350 lies at the border between the broken-ringspiral type and a grand design spiral with two major outer arms. It isabout 130,000 light-years across and, hence, is slightly larger thanour Milky Way.

The rather faint and graceful outer arms originateat the inner main ring and can be traced for almost half a circle whenthey each meet the opposite arm, giving the impression of completing asecond outer ring, the "eye". The arms are given a blue tint as aresult of the presence of very young and massive stars. The amount ofdust, seen as small fragmented dust spirals in the central part of thegalaxy and producing a fine tapestry that bear resemblance with bloodvessels in the eye, is also a signature of the formation of stars.

Theouter parts of the galaxy are so tenuous that many background galaxiescan be seen shining through them, providing the observers with anawesome sense of depth. It is indeed quite remarkable to see that witha total exposure time of only 16 minutes, the VLT lets us admire suchan incredible collection of island universes wandering about in thesky. ESO PR Photo 31b/05 is a mosaic of some of the most prominentgalaxies found in the images. Some of these may reside as far asseveral billion light-years away, i.e. the light from these galaxieswas emitted when the Sun and the Earth had not yet formed.

NGC1350 is located in the rather inconspicuous southern Fornax (TheFurnace) constellation [2]. Recessing from us at a speed of 1860 km/s[3], it is eighty-five million light-years away. It is thus mostprobably not a member of the Fornax cluster of galaxies, the mostnotable entity in the constellation, that lies about 65 millionlight-years away and contains the much more famous barred spiral NGC1365. On the sky, NGC 1350 stands on the outskirts of the Fornaxcluster as can be seen on this image taken with the 1m-Schmidttelescope at La Silla.

Technical information

ESO PRPhoto 31a/05 is a colour-composite image based on data collected withthe FORS2 instrument on the VLT on January 26, 2000, at a time whenKueyen was still in its commissioning phase. The observations were donein four different filters (B - exposure time: 6 min, V - 4 min, R - 3min, and I - 3 min), each associated with a given colour (blue, green,orange and red, respectively). The image covers a region of 8x5 arcmin2on the sky. North is to the left and East is down. The images wereextracted from the ESO science data archive and further processed byHenri Boffin (ESO) and the colour composite was made by Haennes Heyerand Ed Janssen (ESO). An image, reproduced from the "Exploring theSouthern Sky" book by S. Laustsen, C. Madsen and R.M. West, showing theFornax Cluster of Galaxies and the position of several prominentmembers is available on the Fornax Cluster page.

Notes

[1]: The Sun rotates around the centre of the Milky Way and completes a full circle in about 200 million years.

[2]:Fornax (The Furnace) was named by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de LaCaille (1713-1762), when observing from the Cape between 1750 and 1754.He defined 14 new southern constellations, giving them the names ofscientific instruments - e.g. the Telescope - or names taken from thefine arts - e.g. the Sculptor. The original name he proposed was FornaxChemica (Latin for chemical furnace) as a tribute to famous chemistAntoine Lavoisier (1743-1794).

[3]: This means that, 85 millionyears ago, when the light we now record left it, the galaxy was 530,000light-years closer to us.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Southern Observatory (ESO). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Southern Observatory (ESO). "The Colossal Cosmic Eye: ESO's VLT Captures Image Of Spiral Galaxy NGC 1350." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051004175140.htm>.
European Southern Observatory (ESO). (2005, October 4). The Colossal Cosmic Eye: ESO's VLT Captures Image Of Spiral Galaxy NGC 1350. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051004175140.htm
European Southern Observatory (ESO). "The Colossal Cosmic Eye: ESO's VLT Captures Image Of Spiral Galaxy NGC 1350." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051004175140.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA EDGE: OCO-2 Launch

NASA (July 25, 2014) NASA EDGE webcasts live from Vandenberg AFB for the launch of the Oribiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO) launch. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

NASA (July 25, 2014) Apollo 11 celebration, Next Giant Leap anticipation, ISS astronauts appear in the House and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins