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EarthSky // Science Wire, Space Release Date: Aug 06, 2014

A new look at the Triangulum galaxy

This face-on spiral galaxy – aka M33 – is the second-closest spiral to our Milky Way at 3 million light-years away. Check out this new, beautifully detailed image.

Image credit: ESO

Image credit: ESO

The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) in Chile has captured this beautifully detailed image of the galaxy Messier 33, often called the Triangulum Galaxy. This nearby spiral, the second closest large galaxy to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is packed with bright star clusters, and clouds of gas and dust.

This picture is among the most detailed wide-field views of this object ever taken and shows the many glowing red gas clouds in the spiral arms with particular clarity.

Messier 33 is located about three million light-years away in the small northern constellation of Triangulum (The Triangle). Often known as the Triangulum Galaxy, it was observed by the French comet hunter Charles Messier in August 1764, who listed it as number 33 in his famous list of prominent nebulae and star clusters. However, he was not the first to record the spiral galaxy; it was probably first documented by the Sicilian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna around 100 years earlier.

Read more from the ESO