eso9826 — Photo Release
The VLT Looks Deep into a Spiral Galaxy
23 June 1998
The first VLT 8.2-m telescope (UT1) has obtained deep images of the southern spiral galaxy Messier 83 during the present "Commissioning Phase" . During this time, all systems are thoroughly tested and further tuned. Although priority is given to technical work, some astronomical images have been obtained during the recent weeks.
The beautiful, large photo is a combination of two 30 min exposures, obtained in succession with the VLT UT1. For both, the image quality is excellent (round images at 0.38 and 0.40 arcsec, respectively), despite the long exposure time. This once more demonstrates the ability of the telescope to track with very high precision over long time intervals, already at this early stage of commissioning.
The small insert is a reproduction of a photographical plate obtained of the Messier 83 galaxy in the late 1970's with the ESO 3.6-m telescope at La Silla. It shows the location of the field observed by the VLT UT1. This galaxy has a spiral structure that most likely is quite similar to that of our own Milky Way.
The VLT image contains a wealth of details, all the way from faint images of individual stars to stellar clusters and nebulae of gas and dust, superimposed on the diffuse background of the spiral arms in this galaxy.
Further images of astronomical objects from the VLT UT1 will be published at irregular intervals.