Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have imaged the innermost regions of the compact intermediate spiral galaxy NGC 5248.NGC 5248 lies approximately 59 million light-years away in the constellation of Boötes.
The galaxy was discovered by the German-born British astronomer William Herschel in 1784.
Also designated as Caldwell 45, LEDA 48130 and UGC 8616, NGC 5248 has an apparent magnitude of 10.
It can be spotted using a small telescope, though it won’t appear very bright. A larger telescope is needed to make out the galaxy’s spiral arms.
The best time of year to observe NGC 5248 is during the northern hemisphere’s spring and the southern hemisphere’s autumn.
NGC 5248 is notable for the mysterious ring structure around its nucleus.
“This galaxy is notable for having not one but two rings around its center,” ESO astronomers said.
“These rings are characterized by hot spots of starburst activity.”
“Starburst regions, seen as an orange glow in the picture, are where stars form much more frequently than usual,” they explained.
The new image of NGC 5248 was captured by the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument on VLT.
“MUSE is attached to Yepun, one of the four 8.2-m telescopes that make up the VLT,” the astronomers said.
“The instrument decomposes the light of every single pixel within its field of view into its constituent colors or wavelengths.”
“This allows researchers to map complex mechanisms within extended objects, such as analyzing the formation of stars in galaxies.”