Very Large Telescope photographed the “Space Pinwheel”

The presented image was obtained by the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). It demonstrates the galaxy M 99, which, due to its appearance, is often compared to a pinwheel.

Galaxy M 99. Source: ESO/PHANGS

M 99 is located at a distance of 45 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Coma Berenices. It is classified as a spiral galaxy with a grand design. Such objects are characterized by the presence of powerful, pronounced and well-designed spiral arms that clearly emanate from their center and give them the appearance of a pinwheel firework. It is believed that about 10% of all spiral galaxies belong to this type.

The M 99 image was obtained by combining images of the MUSE spectrograph installed on the VLT and the ALMA radio telescope complex. Blue and magenta colors correspond to VLT data, they represent the distribution of stars. ALMA data is shown in red and orange. They demonstrate the location of gas clouds that will later give rise to stars.

M 99 was photographed as part of the PHANGS review (Physics At High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS). Its participants perform observations of nearby galaxies with high resolution on telescopes that record radiation in different ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum. This allows us to learn about the physical properties of the luminaries, gas and dust located in them. Comparing the data obtained in this way, astronomers are trying to understand what activates, accelerates or slows down the birth of new stars.

Recall that earlier we published a picture of the galaxy M 99, taken by the Hubble telescope in the visible range.

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