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Astronomers reveal galaxy snapshot

Astronomers have taken a dramatic snapshot of one of the brightest galaxies in the sky, revealing its striking beauty in unprecedented detail.

NGC 253 is a spiral galaxy 11.5 million light years away in the constellation of Sculptor.

Also known as the "Silver Coin" or "Silver Dollar" galaxy, it is peppered with hot young stars which have just ignited.

Radiation from these "stellar nurseries" makes the surrounding hydrogen gas glow brightly.

The new image of NGC 253 was taken with the European Southern Observatory's 2.6 metre VLT Survey Telescope (VST), which has an exceptionally wide field of view.

VST, located at Paranal on a mountain top in Chile's Atacama desert, is the largest telescope in the world designed exclusively to survey the sky in visible light.

It is the newest telescope at the Paranal observatory, which also houses the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array of four eight-metre telescopes.

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From Belfast Telegraph