ESO's Wide Field Imager has captured the intricate swirls of the spiral galaxy Messier 83, a smaller look-alike of our own Milky Way. Shining with the light of billions of stars and the ruby red glow of hydrogen gas, it is a beautiful example of a barred spiral galaxy, whose shape has led to it being nicknamed the Southern Pinwheel.
This dramatic image of the galaxy Messier 83 was captured by the Wide Field Imager at ESO's La Silla Observatory, located high in the dry desert mountains of the Chilean Atacama Desert. Messier 83 lies roughly 15 million light-years away towards the huge southern constellation of Hydra (the sea serpent). It stretches over 40 000 light-years, making it roughly 2.5 times smaller than our own Milky Way. However, in some respects, Messier 83 is quite similar to our own galaxy. Both the Milky Way and Messier 83 possess a bar across their galactic nucleus, the dense spherical conglomeration of stars seen at the centre of the galaxies.
This very detailed image shows the spiral arms of Messier 83 adorned by countless bright flourishes of ruby red light. These are in fact huge clouds of glowing hydrogen gas. Ultraviolet radiation from newly born, massive stars is ionising the gas in these clouds, causing the great regions of hydrogen to glow red. These star forming regions are contrasted dramatically in this image against the ethereal glow of older yellow stars near the galaxy's central hub. The image also shows the delicate tracery of dark and winding dust streams weaving throughout the arms of the galaxy.
Messier 83 was discovered by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the mid 18th century. Decades later it was listed in the famous catalogue of deep sky objects compiled by another French astronomer and famous comet hunter, Charles Messier. Recent observations of this enigmatic galaxy in ultraviolet light and radio waves have shown that even its outer desolate regions (farther out than those seen in this image) are populated with baby stars. X-ray observations of the heart of Messier 83 have shown that its centre is a hive of vigorous star formation, held deep within a cloud of superheated gas, with temperatures of 7 million degrees Celsius. Messier 83 is also one of the most prolific producers of supernovae, that is, exploding stars: this is one of the two galaxies, which had 6 supernovae in the past 100 years. One of these, SN 1957D was observable for 30 years!
The Wide Field Imager (WFI) is a specialised astronomical camera attached to the 2.2-metre Max-Planck Society/ESO telescope, sited at the La Silla observatory in Chile. Located nearly 2400 m above sea level, atop the mountains of the Atacama Desert, ESO's La Silla enjoys some of the clearest and darkest skies on the whole planet, making the site ideally suited for studying the farthest depths of the Universe.
To make this image, the WFI stared at M83 for roughly 100 minutes through a series of specialist filters, allowing the faint detail of the galaxy to reveal itself. The brighter stars in the foreground are stars in our own galaxy, whilst behind M83 the darkness is peppered with the faint smudges of distant galaxies.
Henri Boffin | alfa
Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators
14.12.2018 | DOE/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet
14.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy