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OUR BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE: Sculptor image shows VST potential

Published on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 00:00


sculptor-galaxyThe Sculptor galaxy, NGC253, viewed by the VLT Survey Telescope. (ESO/INAF-VST)

This wide-field image of NGC253, a galaxy discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1783 while searching for comets, demonstrates the potential of the European Southern Observatory’s VST (Very Large Telescope Survey Telescope) during its science verification stage.

NGC253 (the Sculptor galaxy) is a starburst galaxy with widespread active star formation. The many bright clumps dotting the galaxy show where hot young stars have just ignited; their radiation makes the surrounding hydrogen gas clouds glow brightly, shown in green in this image.

This VST data will be combined with infrared images from VISTA to identify the younger generations of stars in the galaxy for further study.

The VST is a 2.6m wide-field survey telescope with a one-degree field of view – twice as broad as the full Moon, and the VST programme is a joint venture between the INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy and ESO. (ESO/INAF-VST)

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