In May 2018, the telescope turned its sights to the spiral galaxy NGC 3981, which lies 65 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation Crater.
The image shows off the galaxy's spiral arms of material and dense disk of hot, young stars, according to a statement from ESO. Because of the galaxy's angle, you can also see its bright center, which is highly energetic and hosts a supermassive black hole. The arms may have been stretched outward by a run-in with another galaxy at some point, ESO officials said. [Amazing Space Views of ESO's Very Large Telescope (Photos)]
When focusing on science, the VLT has turned its mammoth eye toward worlds circling distant stars, watching exoplanets form and measuring their atmospheres, as well as surveying gas and dust across the universe and tracking galactic evolution.
- Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor
Sarah started writing for Space.com in June of 2015. Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.
- Sarah Lewin, Space.com Associate Editor on