This view shows how the new MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope gives a three-dimensional depiction of a distant galaxy. For each part of the galaxy the light has been split up into its component colors — revealing not only the motions of different parts of the galaxy but also clues to its chemical composition and other properties. At certain wavelengths the emission from the rotating disc around the galaxy is clearly seen, as well as the different velocities of different parts of the disc.
During the subsequent analysis the astronomer can move through the data and study different views of the object at different wavelengths, just like tuning a television to different channels at different frequencies. In this sequence the speed is adjusted to highlight the glow from star formation regions in the disc.
This picture is based on data on the polar ring galaxy NGC 4650A that were obtained soon after the instrument achieved first light in early 2014.
Credit: ESO/MUSE consortium/R. Bacon/L. Calçada