Spiral galaxies stripped bare!

P. Grosbol / ESO

Six spectacular spiral galaxies are seen in a clear new light in pictures taken by the HAWK-I camera on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. From left, the galaxies are NGC 5427, Messier 100 (NGC 4321) and NGC 1300 in the top row, and NGC 4030, NGC 2997 and NGC 1232 in the bottom row.

As astronomical images go, a face-on view of a spiral galaxy is pretty sexy. Today the European Southern Observatory revved up the sex appeal when it showed off infrared images of six spirals that have been “stripped bare” of their galactic dust and gas, revealing the naked stars within. Infrared-sensitive instruments are particularly good at seeing through the dust that obscures stars, and the ESO’s HAWK-I is one of the world’s latest and greatest infrared cameras. These six galaxies are part of a study of spiral structure led by ESO researcher Preben Grosbol. The images help astronomers understand how stars in such galaxies form such complex and beautiful spiral patterns. Can you guess which galaxy set off a supernova that was spotted by a Japanese astronaut in 2007? For the answer, check out the ESO’s image advisory. And for more sexy astronomical views, take a peek at this beauty, and this one, too. Don’t worry: They’re both rated G … for galaxy.

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URL: http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/10/27/5361941-spiral-galaxies-stripped-bare?chromedomain=cosmiclog

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