Feast your eyes on this beautiful stripe of stars, gas, and dust, recently captured by the European Southern Observatory. The image offers a unique perspective of the spiral galaxy NGC 1055, disclosing unexpected twists and curves in its structure.

Located approximately 55 million light-years away from Earth, NGC 1055 can be found in the constellation Cetus (also called "The Sea Monster") and is estimated to be up to 15 percent wider than our own Milky Way galaxy, its younger sister.

The breathtaking new photo, released on March 2, was obtained with ESO's Very Large Telescope in the northern Chile observatory. The image reveals NGC 1055 as seen from the side, exhibiting a 3D view of the galaxy's beautiful and bright shape.

An Edge-On View Keeps Us On The Edge Of Our Seats

This 3D perspective is rarely spotted in snapshots of spiral galaxies, which typically appear flat because of their orientation toward our planet. Sometimes, an angled outlook may offer a glimpse into a galaxy's three-dimensional structure; however, the observation of its full spiral shape is attainable only through an edge-on view.

Although NGC 1055 seems to lack the trademark whirling arms of spiral galaxies - usually visible in photographs taken from above, or "face-on" - the uncommon three-dimensional effect of the captured angle makes this stunning image all the more valuable.

Apart from uniquely displaying the galaxy's contour, the edge-on image also offers insight into its star populations, both old and new, beautifully showcased against the dark background of the universe.

"When seen edge-on, it is possible to get an overall view of how stars - both new patches of star birth and older populations - are distributed throughout a galaxy, and the 'heights' of the relatively flat disc and the star-loaded core become easier to measure," stated ESO officials.

Spiral Galaxies And Their Cosmic Fury

The edge-on viewpoint allowed further observations into the galaxy's warping structure, showing the twists and bends of NGC 1055's disc across its core. ESO suggests such an unusual design might be caused by NGC 1055's interaction with the neighboring Messier 77 galaxy.

Because of their gravitational force, these types of interactions between galaxies have the potential to alter their disc properties and distort their shapes, resulting in "regions of peculiar twisting and disarray" like the ones seen in NGC 1055's disc.

Such a detailed view of this galaxy's shape, structure, and "battle scars" was made possible through the focal reducer and low dispersion spectrograph 2 instrument installed on Unit Telescope 1 of the VLT.

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