Six spectacular spiral galaxies are seen in a clear new light in images from ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The pictures were taken in infrared light, using the impressive power of the HAWK-I camera, and will help astronomers understand how the remarkable spiral patterns in galaxies form and evolve.HAWK-I is one of the newest and most powerful cameras on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). It is sensitive to infrared light, which means that much of the obscuring dust in the galaxies' spiral arms becomes transparent to its detectors. Compared to the earlier, and still much-used, VLT infrared camera ISAAC, HAWK-I has sixteen times as many pixels to cover a much larger area of sky in one shot and, by using newer technology than ISAAC, it has a greater sensitivity to faint infrared radiation. Because HAWK-I can study galaxies stripped bare of the confusing effects of dust and glowing gas it is ideal for studying the vast numbers of stars that make up spiral arms.
European astronomers unveiled gorgeous images of six spiral galaxies Wednesday, views of islands of stars resembling our own Milky Way.
Hubble shows that the beautiful spirals galaxies of the modern Universe were the ugly ducklings of six billion years ago.If confirmed, the finding highlights the importance to many galaxies of collisions and mergers in the recent past. It also provides clues for the unique status of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
Using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have, for the first time, created a demographic census of galaxy types and shapes from a time before the Earth and the Sun existed, to the present day. The results show that, contrary to contemporary thought, more than half of the present-day spiral galaxies had so-called peculiar shapes only 6 billion years ago, which, if confirmed, highlights the importance of collisions and mergers in the recent past of many galaxies. It also provides clues for the unique status of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.Galaxy morphology, or the study of the shapes and formation of galaxies, is a critical and much-debated topic in astronomy. An important tool for this is the Hubble sequence or Hubble tuning-fork diagram, a classification scheme invented in 1926 by the same Edwin Hubble in whose honour the space telescope is named.