Using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), astronomers using have produced a stunning new image of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3318.
This image shows NGC 3318, a barred spiral galaxy some 115 million light-years away in the constellation of Vela. The color image is made up of observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and VLT’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument in the near-infrared and optical parts of the spectrum. Six filters were used to sample various wavelengths. The color results from assigning different hues to each monochromatic image associated with an individual filter. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / ESO / R.J. Foley / R. Colombari.
Also known as AGC 27358, ESO 317-52 and IRAS 10350-4122, the galaxy was discovered on March 2, 1835 by the English astronomer John Herschel.
NGC 3318 belongs to the NGC 3318 group, a small group of at least nine galaxies.
“The spiral arms of the galaxy NGC 3318 are lazily draped across this image,” Hubble astronomers said.
“Vela was originally part of a far larger constellation, known as Argo Navis after the fabled ship Argo from Greek mythology, but this unwieldy constellation proved to be impractically large,” they added.
“Argo Navis was split into three separate parts called Carnina, Puppis, and Vela — each named after part of the Argo.”
“As befits a galaxy in a nautically inspired constellation, the outer edges of NGC 3318 almost resemble a ship’s sails billowing in a gentle breeze.”
On February 2, 2000, a very bright supernova called SN 2000cl was observed in NGC 3318.
“The titanic supernova SN 2000cl was first detected by amateur astronomer Robin Chassagne in 2000,” the researchers said.
“Thanks to NGC 3318’s distance from Earth, the original supernova must have taken place in or around 1885.”
“Coincidentally, this was the year in which the only supernova ever to be detected in our neighboring galaxy Andromeda was witnessed by 19th-century astronomers.”