ESO has released a beautiful image taken by the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) of a large portion of the intermediate spiral galaxy Messier 66.
Messier 66 is located approximately 31 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo.
The galaxy was discovered on March 1, 1780 by the French astronomer Charles Messier, who described it as ‘very long and very faint.’
Also known as M66, NGC 3627, Arp 16, IRAS 11176+1315, LEDA 34695 and UGC 6346, it has a diameter of 95,000 light-years.
Messier 66 has a spiral shape with a weak bar feature and loosely wound arms.
Along with Messier 65 and NGC 3628, it belongs to the Leo Triplet of galaxies (M66 group).
Messier 66 is also a member of a large group of galaxies called the NGC 3627 group.
“This image of Messier 66 was taken with the MUSE instrument on Very Large Telescope,” ESO astronomers said.
“But why does it have these unusual colors?”
“The image is a combination of observations conducted in different wavelengths of light,” they said.
“But rather than seeing the stars in this galaxy, as in more classical images, what this image displays is gas ionized by newly-born stars, with hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur shown in red, blue and orange respectively.”
The image of Messier 66 was taken as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) project.
“PHANGS is using telescopes operating across all wavelengths to make high-resolution observations of nearby galaxies,” the researchers said.
“The goal of the project is to better understand what triggers, boosts or holds back the formation of new stars in different environments.”
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/vlt-spiral-galaxy-messier-66-10766.html