Paris, France (SPX) Sep 10, 2010
ESO has released a spectacular new image of NGC 300, a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way, and located in the nearby Sculptor Group of galaxies. Taken with the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, this 50-hour exposure reveals the structure of the galaxy in exquisite detail.
NGC 300 lies about six million light-years away and appears to be about two thirds the size of the full Moon on the sky.
Originally discovered from Australia by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop early in the nineteenth century, NGC 300 is one of the closest and most prominent spiral galaxies in the southern skies and is bright enough to be seen easily in binoculars. It lies in the inconspicuous constellation of Sculptor, which has few bright stars, but is home to a collection of nearby galaxies that form the Sculptor Group.
Other members that have been imaged by ESO telescopes include NGC 55 (eso0914), NGC 253 (eso1025, eso0902) and NGC 7793 (eso0914). Many galaxies have at least some slight peculiarity, but NGC 300 seems to be remarkably normal. This makes it an ideal specimen for astronomers studying the structure and content of spiral galaxies such as our own.
This picture from the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile was assembled from many individual images taken through a large set of different filters with a total exposure time close to 50 hours. The data was acquired over many observing nights, spanning several years.
The main purpose of this extensive observational campaign was to take an unusually thorough census of the stars in the galaxy, counting both the number and varieties of the stars, and marking regions, or even individual stars, that warrant deeper and more focussed investigation. But such a rich data collection will also have many other uses for years to come.
By observing the galaxy with filters that isolate the light coming specifically from hydrogen and oxygen, the many star-forming regions along NGC 300's spiral arms are shown with particular clarity in this image as red and pink clouds.
With its huge field of view, 34 x 34 arcminutes, similar to the apparent size of the full Moon in the sky, the WFI is an ideal tool for astronomers to study large objects such as NGC 300.
NGC 300 is also the home of many interesting astronomical phenomena that have been studied with ESO telescopes. ESO astronomers recently discovered the most distant and one of the most massive stellar-mass black holes yet found (eso1004) in this galaxy, as the partner of a hot and luminous Wolf-Rayet star in a binary system.
NGC 300 and another galaxy, NGC 55, are slowly spinning around and towards each other, in the early stages of a lengthy merging process (eso0914). The current best estimate of the distance to the NCG 300 was also determined by astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory (eso0524), among others.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It
Galactic Tendrils Shed Light On Evolution Of Spiral Galaxies
Heidelberg, Germany (SPX) Sep 09, 2010
Around the Milky Way galaxy and in the vicinity of our immediate cosmic neighborhood, known as the "Local Group" of galaxies, traces of spiral galaxies swallowing dwarf galaxies have been known since 1997. But the Local group with its three spiral galaxies and numerous dwarfs is much too small a sample to see whether theoretical predictions of the frequency of such digestive processes match obse ... read more
Falcon 1e Launch Capabilities Brought To The European Institutional Market|
Vega Launcher Production Contracts Signed By ESA, Arianespace And ELV
Russia Sends Three Satellites Into Space
Globalstar Satellites Are Readied For Soyuz Launch
Russia to test Mars lander for 2011 flight
Mars rover halfway to next destination
NASA Data Shed New Light About Water And Volcanoes On Mars
How Microbes Could Help Colonize Mars
Russia To Test Unmanned Lander For Mars Moon Mission
China preps next lunar space mission
Chandrayaan-2 Will Try Out New Ideas And Technologies
Data From Chandrayaan Moon Mission To Go Public
Flying To The Edge
Picture-Perfect Pluto Practice
Weighing The Planets, From Mercury To Saturn
Pounding Particles To Create Neptune's Water In The Lab
Scientists looking to spot alien oceans
Deadly Tides Mean Early Exit For Hot Jupiters
Can We Spot Volcanoes On Alien Worlds
Chemical basis for first life theorized
Horizontal space launcher eyed
Successful Static Testing Of L 110 Liquid Core Stage Of GSLV 3
Danish rocketeers abort launch attempt
Technical glitch grounds homemade Danish rocket
China's Second Lunar Probe Chang'e-2 To Reach Lunar Orbit Faster Than Chang'e-1
China Finishes Construction Of First Unmanned Space Module
China Contributes To Space-Based Information Access A Lot
China Sends Research Satellite Into Space
Two asteroids to pass close to Earth, but won't hit: NASA
Deep Impact Imaging Of Comet Hartley 2 Begins
Two Asteroids To Pass By Earth Wednesday
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|