ESO released a beautiful image today of M83, a classic spiral galaxy. The image was taken by the HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The picture shows the galaxy in infrared light and the combination of the huge mirror of the VLT, the large field of view and great sensitivity of the HAWK –I and the superb observing conditions at ESO’s Paranal Observatory makes this one of the sharpest and most detailed pictures of Messier 83 ever taken from the ground. M83 is perhaps a mirror to how our own Milky Way galaxy looks, could we step outside and take a look.
Messier 83 is located about 15 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra. It is famous for its many supernovae: over the last century, six supernovae have been observed in Messier 83 — a record number that is matched by only one other galaxy. Even without supernovae, Messier 83 is one of the brightest nearby galaxies, visible using just binoculars.
Check out this article by our resident astronomer Tammy Plotner to find out how you can spot M83 in the night sky.