The Blinking Galaxy

NGC 6118NGC 6118 is a grand-design spiral galaxy, and it shines bright in this image taken by ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Its central bar and tight spiral arms are clearly visible. The galaxy is sometimes known to amateur astronomers as the “Blinking Galaxy” because this relatively faint, fuzzy object can appear to flick into existence when viewed through small telescopes and then suddenly disappear again as the observer’s eye position shifted.

Image Credit: ESO

Lopsided M96

A galactic maelstromThis is Messier 96, a spiral galaxy a bit more than 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is roughly the same mass and size as the Milky Way, but unlike our more or less symmetrical galaxy, M96 is lopsided. Its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the apparent galactic center. Its arms are also asymmetrical, perhaps because of the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

A Big Sibling for the Milky Way

NGC 6744 is similar to our home galaxy, but it’s about 200,000 light-years in diameter, about twice the size of our galaxy. Like the Milky Way, NGC 6744 has a prominent central core packed with old yellow stars. Its dusty spiral arms glow in shades of pink and blue; while the blue sites are full of young star clusters, the pink ones are regions of active star formation, indicating that the galaxy is still very lively.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA