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ESO spies warped, star-forming spiral galaxy

As seen by an EU commissioner

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The European Southern Observatory has released a new image of nearby spiral galaxy NCG-134, revealing a place very similar to our own galaxy, but with a significant difference: the galaxy's spiral disk is twisted.

ESO picture of galaxy NGC-134

ESO picture of galaxy NGC-134.

Our own galaxy does have a small warp in it, but the distortion in NGC-134 is much more pronounced. Researchers at the observatory describe it as looking like a vinyl record* that has been left out in the sun for too long.

The cause of the warps - which are present in roughly half of all known spiral galaxies - is still unknown. The distortion could be the result of a collision with another galaxy - such encounters are known to leave trails of material as the two galaxies pull apart again. NCG-134 does have a small "tail", the researchers say, stripped from the top edge of its disk.

The image, captured on ESO's VLT by visiting EU commissioner for science and research, Janez Potočnik, also shows the galaxy has some star-forming regions, shown as red in the image, full of ionised hydrogen gas.

You can download a full resolution image here (3MB), and read Potočnik's blog entry visit here. ®

*What music came on, before BitTorrent.

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