‘Cosmic caramel swirl’: ESO releases new image of NGC 1300 galaxy

The European Southern Observatory’s picture of this week looks like a mouthwatering caramel nest. The image is of the NGC 1300 spiral galaxy, located about 61 million light-years from Earth. It was created using data collected by the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT) located in Chile.

The image shows a bar of stars and gas along with a central ring which shows an intense star formation.

“The image is a combination of observations conducted at different colours — or wavelengths — of light. The golden caramel glow corresponds to clouds of molecular gas, the raw material out of which stars form,” said ESO in a release. The images were taken as a part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) project. The project aims to make high-resolution observations of nearby galaxies using several telescopes, including the ALMA, VLT, Hubble and the newly-launched James Webb Space Telescope.

The different telescopes will help observe the nearby galaxies at different wavelengths. “Different wavelengths can reveal a multitude of secrets about a galaxy and by comparing them astronomers are able to study what activates, boosts, or hinders the birth of new stars,” adds the release.

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