Monday, December 19, 2022

The Inner Ring of Galaxy NGC 1097 | European Southern Observatory

The Inner Ring of Galaxy NGC 1097 | European Southern Observatory

The European Southern Observatory’s newest scientific instrument, the Enhanced Resolution Imager and Spectrograph (ERIS) has successfully completed its first test observations. One of them exposed the heart of the galaxy NGC 1097 in mesmerizing detail. Installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in northern Chile, this infrared instrument will be able to see further and in finer detail, leading the way in Solar System, exoplanet and galaxy observations.

ERIS sees first light, capturing a detailed view of the inner ring of NGC 1097

The image consists of a ring of bright pink and blue dusty material. The ring has bright spots, showing where stars are forming. There are darker patches in the ring, where the dust is too dense for light to pass through. In the middle of the ring, there is a bright pink-yellow glow, with a very bright center. There is a gap between this glow in the middle and the ring, where the background dark Universe peers through.

ERIS, the Very Large Telescope’s newest infrared eye on the sky, captured this stunning image of the inner ring of the galaxy NGC 1097. This galaxy is located 45 million light-years away from Earth, in the constellation Fornax. ERIS has captured the gaseous and dusty ring that lies at the very center of the galaxy. The bright spots in the ring are stellar nurseries, shown in unprecedented detail. The center of this galaxy is active, with a supermassive black hole that feeds off its surroundings. 

This image has been taken through four different filters by ERIS’s state-of-the-art infrared imager, the Near Infrared Camera System—or NIX. The filters have been represented here by blue, green, red and magenta, where the last one highlights the compact regions in the ring. To put NIX’s resolution in perspective, this image shows, in detail, a portion of the sky less than 0.03% the size of the full Moon.

Credit: European Southern Observatory/ERIS team

Release Date: Nov. 23, 2022

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