Galactic Trio in the Constellation Leo

The European Southern Observatory released the new image on July 27, 2011. It was taken by the observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope and shows three interacting galaxies located in the constellation of Leo, which is about 35 million light-years away from Earth. All three objects, NGC 3628, M 65 and M 66, are spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way galaxy. NGC 3628, on the left, is seen edge-on, with thick dust lanes along the plane of the galaxy. The Messier objects M 65, on the upper right, and M 66, on the lower right,are inclined enough that their wispy spiral arms are visible in the photo.The image also contains the tracks of several asteroids within our own solar system that flew across the field of view during the  telescope’s observing period.

The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) is the newest state of the art observing tool operated by the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in the Chilean desert. The 2.6-meter telescope and its giant 268-megapixel camera, OmegaCAM, are dedicated to surveying the skies in visible light.