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Ribbons and Pearls
RA 3h 38m 51.93s Dec -26° 20' 13.29"
65 million light years
7.1 × 5.4 arcmin
7.17 x 7.27 arcminutes
North is -0.0° left of vertical
January 1, 2018
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
This picture shows spectacular ribbons of gas and dust wrapping around the pearly center of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398. This galaxy is located in the constellation of Fornax (The Furnace), approximately 65 million light-years away.
Rather than beginning at the very middle of the galaxy and swirling outwards, NGC 1398's graceful spiral arms stem from a straight bar, formed of stars, that cuts through the galaxy's central region. Most spiral galaxies - around two thirds - are observed to have this feature, but it's not yet clear whether or how these bars affect a galaxy's behavior and development.
This image comprises data gathered by the FOcal Reducer/low dispersion Spectrograph 2 (FORS2) instrument, mounted on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal Observatory, Chile. It shows NGC 1398 in striking detail, from the dark lanes of dust mottling its spiral arms, through to the pink-hued star-forming regions sprinkled throughout its outer regions.
This image was created as part of the ESO Cosmic Gems program, an outreach initiative to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects using ESO telescopes, for the purposes of education and public outreach. The program makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations. All data collected may also be suitable for scientific purposes, and are made available to astronomers through ESO's science archive.
1398 is an isolated barred spiral galaxy exhibiting a double ring structure.
It is located 65 million light years from the Earth, in the constellation
of Fornax. The galaxy, with a diameter of 135,000 light years, is slightly
larger than the Milky Way. Over 100 billion stars are in the galaxy. It
was first discovered by Friedrich Winnecke of Karlsruhe, Germany, on December
17, 1868, while he was searching for comets.