Giant telescope captures images of galaxy NGC 1055, sister of the Milky Way

The European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s Very Large Telescope in northern Chile on Thursday (March 2) released colorful new images of the spiral galaxy NGC 1055, an older sister of our Milky Way that is about 55 million light years from Earth and is located in the constellation of Cetus (The Sea Monster).

The snapshots, taken with ESO’s VLT telescope, show a colorful stripe of stars, gas and dust, which is thought to be up to 15 percent larger in diameter than the Milky Way.

NGC 1055 appears to lack the whirling arms characteristic of a spiral galaxy, as it is seen edge-on. However, it displays odd twists in its structure that were probably caused by an interaction with a large neighboring galaxy, according to a news release posted of ESO’s official website.

Spiral galaxies throughout the Universe take on all manner of orientations with respect to Earth. Such orientations reveal a galaxy’s flowing arms and bright core in beautiful detail, but make it difficult to get any sense of a three-dimensional shape, the news release states.

The galaxy has regions of peculiar twisting and disarray in its disc, likely caused by interactions with the nearby galaxy Messier 77, according to the news release.

The ESO is an intergovernmental astronomy organization backed by 16 countries in Europe and South America and hosted in Chile.