Astronomers set out to study elliptical galaxies in the southern sky, and they ended up capturing an incredible assortment of celestial objects along the way.
Taken by the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at Chile’s Paranal Observatory, this image shows a collection of stars, asteroids, and galaxies, with NGC 5018 shown just left center.
The elliptical galaxy lies over 100 million light-years from Earth and resembles a blurry white cloud. But if you look closely, you can see streaks of gas and stars — a tidal tail, indicating that the galaxy has interacted with others nearby in the past.
The image also shows a slew of bright stars between NGC 5018 and Earth, including HD 114746, the brilliant blue star shown just above the center. VST was also able to image the trajectories of two different asteroids, which appear as faint streaks below and to the right of NGC 5018.