Stunning telescope image captures the grand design of the spiral galaxy

This image of spiral galaxy NGC 4254, also known as the Coma Pinwheel or Messier 99, is a composite of data captured with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submarine Array (ALMA). Credit: ESO/PHANGS

This stunning image clearly shows the well-defined arms of the spiral galaxy NGC 4254, also known as the Coma Pinwheel or Messier 99. Due to its distinctive fan shape with prominent arms, it is called the Large-Designed Spiral Galaxy.

It was discovered on March 17, 1781 by the French astronomer Pierre Michen. It was reported by fellow French astronomer Charles Messier, who included the object in Messier’s catalog of comet-like objects. Modern technology has allowed us to observe galaxies like these in much greater detail than when they were first observed by Méchain and Messier in the 18th century.

NGC 4254 is a large-design spiral galaxy in the northern constellation Coma Berenices about 49,000,000 light-years from[{” attribute=””>Milky Way. In Latin, Coma Berenices means “Berenice’s Hair” and refers to Queen Berenice II of Egypt, who sacrificed her long hair as a religious offering.

This image is a composite of data taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), co-owned by ESO. The VLT data, shown in blue and purple tones, was captured with the Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument, mapping the distribution of stars. The ALMA data – shown here by the red and orange regions – originates from cold clouds of gas which can eventually collapse into stars. Comparing these two datasets allows for a better understanding of how stars form.

This image was taken as part of the Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS (PHANGS) survey, which produces high-resolution images of nearby galaxies across all wavelengths of light. This will allow astronomers to learn more about the diverse range of galactic environments found in our Universe.

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