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Exposing Galactic Secrets of a Violent Past Astronomers had to turn into super sleuths when trying to figure out the cause of incredible sights like NGC 1316. Their investigation indicates that NGC 1316 is an enormous elliptical galaxy that demonstrated all the characteristics of a serial kille [...]

Captured by the wide-field optical camera on ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope (VST), the spectacular Orion Nebula and its associated cluster of young stars (about 1 million years old) is one of our closest stellar nurseries residing in the constellation Orion at a distance of about 1,350 lightyears. (One [...]

This enormous three gigapixel (graphic resolution equivalent to three thousand million pixels) image from ESO’s VLT Survey Telescope shows two of the sky's more famous residents sharing the stage with a lesser-known neighbour. Getting to know your neighbour... On the right lies the faint, glow [...]

The Prawn Nebula lies at a distance of 6,000 lightyears from Earth, with a span of about 250 lightyears across, and was discovered by the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard around 1900. It is a lunar nursery that contains a huge number of scorching, luminous, young stars, formed out of th [...]

This acrylic image shows the Cat’s Paw Nebula (upper right) and the Lobster Nebula (lower left). They are located 5,500 and 8,000 lightyears from Earth respectively in the constellation Scorpius and were discovered by British astronomer John Herschel in 1837. This nebula is home to several gigant [...]

Just in time for the 26th anniversary of Hubble's launch on April 24, 1990, the space telescope has photographed, from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera, a mosaic of four images allowing us to see the whole of the Bubble Nebula in one picture for the first time. At 7,800 lightyears distance, in the dire [...]

The Tarantula Nebula, which got its name because its glowing filaments of dust resemble the legs of a spider, was thought originally to be a star. However, in 1751 Nicolas Louis de Lacaille recognised its nebular nature. It lies at a distance of 160,000 lightyears from Earth. It is the most activ [...]

Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713-1762) discovered M83 on February 23rd, 1752 at the Cape of Good Hope. The spiral galaxy M83 (also known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy) is approximately 15 million lightyears away in the constellation Hydra. It is one of the closest and brightest spiral galaxies in t [...]

The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest nebulae to us, and is clearly visible to the naked eye in the night sky. It is located at a distance of around 1,630 lightyears away, and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth, which astronomers believe contains more than 3,000 young stars. [...]

Pierre Méchain discovered Messier 106 in 1781, and at a distance of about 22-25 million lightyears away from Earth, is one of the largest and brightest nearby galaxies. Similar in size and luminosity to the Andromeda Galaxy, it has become an important reference point in determining cosmic distance s [...]

The ‘Mystic Mountain’ is a term for a star-forming region of a giant pillar of gas that lies within the turbulent stellar nursery of the Carina Nebula, and is located 7,500 lightyears away in the southern constellation Carina. This three lightyear long pillar of thick gas and dust is where baby s [...]

The Sombrero Galaxy is a spiral galaxy located 28 million lightyears from Earth, and has a diameter of approximately 50,000 lightyears, which is around 30% the size of the Milky Way. It is located in the constellation Virgo, which can be seen from both the northern and southern hemispheres, dependin [...]

Spanning about 2.8 lightyears wide, and at around 700 lightyears distant, the Helix Nebula is one of the closest nebulae to the Earth and is one of the most famous deep sky objects, discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding (a German astronomer notable for having discovered the asteroid 3 Juno) around 1824. [...]

The Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as M101) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Major (the Great Bear) and is roughly 170,000 lightyears in diameter, which makes it roughly 70% larger than our own galaxy. It is approximately 20.9 million lightyears away, which means that we are seeing it as [...]

The Carina Nebula is a large bright nebula, composed of gas and dust, lies at an estimated distance of between 6,500 and 10,000 lightyears from Earth. The pillar is three lightyears in length, with the total length of the column of about 10 lightyears and astronomers estimating that the jet is movin [...]

One of the best-known objects in the sky, the Whirlpool Galaxy's appearance resembles a graceful grand spiral staircase sweeping through space; these spirals are actually long lanes of stars and gas, laced with dust. Relatively close to Earth at approximately 25 million lightyears away, it is abo [...]

The Carina Nebula lies at a distance of 6,500-10,000 lightyears from Earth. This image, one of the highest-resolution panoramas ever assembled by the Hubble Space Telescope and released by The Space Telescope Science Institute, covers a region of the nebula that is 50 lightyears wide. Formed 3 mi [...]