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Astronomy Now Glittering galaxies galore in wide-angle VST image in Virgo

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Astronomy Now

The European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope and its OmegaCAM instrument captured this stunning 400-megapixel wide-angle view of a galactic neighbourhood in the constellation Virgo showing a “glittering host of galaxies” shining in the depths of space.


Image: ESO/Spavone et al.

An international team of astronomers used the VST to conduct a survey of early-type elliptical galaxies visible from the southern hemisphere, capturing an intriguing view of NGC 5018 near the centre of the image below that features a “tidal tail” of stars stretching away into space, an indicator of gravitational interactions with other nearby galaxies. The image also includes faint tracks left by two asteroids in Earth’s solar system along with a scattering of foreground stars in the Milky Way, including the brilliant blue star HD 114746 near the centre of the photo.


Image: ESO/Spavone et al.

The 256-megapixel OmegaCAM used with the VST features a 32-CCD detector to create images with 16 times more pixels than the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.

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