A curled viper

Resembling a curled sleeping snake, this picture shows NGC 1087. This spiral galaxy, located approximately 80 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cetus, is captured here by a combination of observations conducted at different wavelengths  –– or colours –– of light. 

But no need to worry, NGC 1087 will not poison you! The apparent menacing red glow actually corresponds to clouds of cold molecular gas, the raw material out of which stars form. Astronomers are able to image these clouds thanks to the Chile-based Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner. The bluish regions in the background reveal the pattern of older, already formed stars, imaged by the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) also in Chile. 

The images were taken as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) project. The team is making high-resolution observations of nearby galaxies with telescopes operating across a wide range of wavelengths. Different wavelengths tell us about the physical properties of stars, gas and dust within galaxies, and by comparing them astronomers are able to study what activates, boosts or hinders the birth of new stars. 

Credit:

ESO/ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/PHANGS

About the Image

Id:potw2223a
Type:Observation
Release date:6 June 2022, 06:00
Size:861 x 595 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 1087
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Spiral
Distance:80 million light years
Constellation:Cetus
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
139.2 KB
Screensize JPEG
128.6 KB

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Coordinates

Position (RA):2 46 25.16
Position (Dec):0° 29' 54.43"
Field of view:2.87 x 1.99 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 90.0° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
G
475 nmVery Large Telescope
MUSE
Optical
R
630 nmVery Large Telescope
MUSE
Optical
I
775 nmVery Large Telescope
MUSE
Millimeter
CO [2–1]
1.2 mmAtacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Band 6