The golden era to study stellar births

Eso_potw2231a_1024

eso_potw2231a August 1st, 2022

Credit: ESO/PHANGS

This week, we feature an image of the spiral galaxy NGC 4303, also known as Messier 61, which is one of the largest galactic members of the Virgo Cluster. Being a so-called starburst galaxy, it has an unusually high amount of stars being born, and has been used by astronomers as a laboratory to better understand the fascinating phenomena of star formation. Stars form when clouds of cold gas collapse. The energetic radiation from newly born stars will heat and ionise the surrounding remaining gas. The ionised gas will shine, acting as a beacon of ongoing star formation. In this stunning and jewel-like image, this glowing gas can be seen as the whirlpool of gold: the direct traces of stars being born.  The golden glow is a result of combining observations taken at different wavelengths of light with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Here gas clouds of ionised oxygen, hydrogen and sulphur are shown in blue, green and red, respectively. The observations are done as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) project, aiming to reveal nearby galaxies across all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Are you curious about how one goes from observations to an image like this one? Check out this ESO blog post that goes into it in more detail of the process.

Provider: European Southern Observatory

Image Source: https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw2231a/

Curator: European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, None, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Messier 61 NGC 4303
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Type > Spiral
Eso_potw2231a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 12h 21m 54.9s
DEC = 4° 28’ 24.9”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
3.0 x 2.9 arcminutes
Constellation
Virgo

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue VLT (MUSE) Optical (OIII) 499.0 nm
Orange VLT (MUSE) Optical (SII) 673.0 nm
Red VLT (MUSE) Optical (H-alpha) 656.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Orange
Red
Eso_potw2231a_1280
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ID
potw2231a
Subject Category
C.5.1.1  
Subject Name
Messier 61, NGC 4303
Credits
ESO/PHANGS
Release Date
2022-08-01T06:00:00
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
https://www.eso.org/public/images/potw2231a/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Very Large Telescope, Very Large Telescope, Very Large Telescope
Instrument
MUSE, MUSE, MUSE
Color Assignment
Blue, Orange, Red
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
OIII, SII, H-alpha
Central Wavelength
499, 673, 656
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
None, None, None
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
185.478793636, 4.47357646823
Reference Dimension
885.0, 880.0
Reference Pixel
442.5, 440.0
Scale
-5.55908359874e-05, 5.55908359874e-05
Rotation
-0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
European Southern Observatory
URL
https://www.eso.org
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
None
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
European Southern Observatory
Publisher ID
eso
Resource ID
potw2231a
Metadata Date
2021-06-01T16:26:04+02:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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There is no distance meta data in this image.