Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT
Wide Field Imager view of the southern spiral NGC 300
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Wide Field Imager view of the southern spiral NGC 300

September 12, 2010
This picture of the spectacular southern spiral galaxy NGC 300 was taken using the Wide Field Imager (WFI) at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It was assembled from many individual images through a large set of different filters over many observing nights, spanning several years. The main purpose of this extensive observational campaign was to get an unusually thorough census of the stars in the galaxy, counting both the number and varieties of stars and marking regions, or even individual stars, that warrant deeper and more focused investigation. But such a rich data collection will also have many other uses for years to come.

The images were mostly taken through filters that transmit red, green or blue light. These were supplemented by images through special filters that allow through only the light from ionized hydrogen or oxygen gas and highlight the glowing clouds in the galaxy's spiral arms. The total exposure time amounted to around 50 hours.