Gorgeous Spiral Galaxy Near Milky Way Captured In An Image

First Posted: Mar 03, 2017 04:48 AM EST

The Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile captured galaxy NGC 1055 in a stunning new image. It showed colorful stars, gas and dust in a spiral estimated to be 15 percent larger in diameter than that of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The snapshot, taken by the VLT, showed stripes of color, but lacked the whirling arm characteristic of the type of galaxy, as it was captured edge-on, according to Mirror. However, the twists in the galaxy's strcuture showed that it was probably a result of an interaction with a neighboring galaxy. ESO noted that spiral galaxies in the universe can take on different orientations from people's view here on Earth.

While there have been many galaxies that were captured showing their flowing arms and bright cores in detail, such views make it difficult to get some sense of its three-dimensional shape. To do so, scientists also need edge-on views such as the NGC 1055, as it gives scientists an overall view of how stars are distributed, to say the least.

With the help of the edge-on perspective, astronomers found evidence of warping in NGC 1055 as the disc bends and twists along the core. However, according to, such unsual structure is likely the result of an interaction with other nearby galaxies, such as the Messier 77. Gravitational force can distort galaxies, including their stars, gas and even dust over the course of millions of years.

Seeing galaxies edge-on also helps scientists get an overall view of the stars and give other details such as new starbirths and older populations, and how they are distributed throughout the galaxy. Plus, the "heights" of these galaxy cores, which are often the areas most loaded with stars, become easier for scientists to measure.

The stunning image of NGC 1055 was captured by ESO's Focal Reducer and low dispersion Spectograph 2 instrument, which was mounted on Unit Telescope 1 of the VLT, at Paranal Observatory in Northern Chile.

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