Tonight's Sky
Sun
Sun
Moon
Moon
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Mars
Mars
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn

Tonight's Sky — Change location

OR

Searching...

Tonight's Sky — Select location

Tonight's Sky — Enter coordinates

° '
° '

Pinwheel Galaxy snapped by VST

The new picture is among the most detailed wide-field views of this object ever taken and shows the many glowing red gas clouds in the spiral arms with particular clarity.
RELATED TOPICS: GALAXIES | SPIRAL GALAXIES
Triangulum Galaxy
VST snaps a very detailed view of the Pinwheel Galaxy
ESO
The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Paranal Observatory in Chile has captured a beautifully detailed image of galaxy Messier 33 (M33). This nearby spiral, the second closest large galaxy to the Milky Way, is packed with bright star clusters and clouds of gas and dust. The new picture is among the most detailed wide-field views of this object ever taken and shows the many glowing red gas clouds in the spiral arms with particular clarity.

M33 (NGC 598) is located about 3 million light-years away in the small northern constellation Triangulum the Triangle. Often known as the Pinwheel Galaxy, it was observed by the French comet hunter Charles Messier in August 1764, who listed it as number 33 in his famous list of prominent nebulae and star clusters. However, he was not the first to record the spiral galaxy; it was probably first documented by the Sicilian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna around 100 years earlier.

Although the Pinwheel Galaxy lies in the northern sky, it is just visible from the southern vantage point of ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. However, it does not rise very high in the sky. This image was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope (VST), a state-of-the-art 2.6-meter survey telescope with a field of view that is twice as broad as the Full Moon. This picture was created from many individual exposures, including some taken through a filter that lets just the light from glowing hydrogen through, which make the red gas clouds in the galaxies spiral arms especially prominent.

Among the many star formation regions in M33’s spiral arms, the giant nebula NGC 604 stands out. With a diameter of nearly 1,500 light-years, this is one of the largest nearby emission nebulae known. It stretches over an area 40 times the size of the much more famous — and much closer — Orion Nebula.

The Pinwheel Galaxy is the third-largest member of the Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, and about 50 other smaller galaxies. From a dark site, this galaxy is just visible with the unaided eye and is considered to be the most distant celestial object visible without any optical help. Viewing conditions for the very patient are only set to improve in the long-term. The galaxy is approaching our own at a speed of about 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) per hour.

A closer look at this beautiful new picture not only allows a very detailed inspection of the star-forming spiral arms of the galaxy, but also reveals the very rich scenery of the more distant galaxies scattered behind the myriad stars and glowing clouds of NGC 598.
0

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Read and share your comments on this article
Comment on this article
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of Astronomy.com are allowed to comment on this article. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
0 comments
ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
BoxProductcovernov

Click here to receive a FREE e-Guide exclusively from Astronomy magazine.

Find us on Facebook

Loading...