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Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has been up to some fascinating stuff. Recently, scientists released an image of the Antennae Galaxies, a pair of colliding spiral galaxies, using the “most complex ground-based astronomy observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).” ALMA, by the way, is still under construction. I can’t imagine what we’ll see when it’s completed.

We love images of galaxies and nebulae here at Space Oddities. Here are some of our favorites taken by the ESO. So far, we think the Tinker Bell Triplet is our favorite. No wait, maybe the Helix Nebula …

The Carina Nebula

Amazing detail in the intricate structures of one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, the Carina Nebula, where strong winds and powerful radiation from an armada of massive stars are creating havoc in the large cloud of dust and gas from which the stars were born. The Carina Nebula is located about 7500 light-years away in the constellation of the same name (Carina; the Keel). Spanning about 100 light-years, it is four times larger than the famous Orion Nebula and far brighter. It is an intensive star-forming region with dark lanes of cool dust splitting up the glowing nebula gas that surrounds its many clusters of stars. Credit: ESO

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Centaurus A

Centaurus A is our nearest giant galaxy, at a distance of about 13 million light-years in the southern constellation of Centaurus. It is an elliptical galaxy, currently merging with a companion spiral galaxy, resulting in areas of intense star formation and making it one of the most spectacular objects in the sky. Centaurus A hosts a very active and highly luminous central region, caused by the presence of a supermassive black hole, and is the source of strong radio and X-ray emission. Credit: ESO/WFI (Optical); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (Submillimetre); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

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Flame Nebula

This image, the first to be released publicly from VISTA, the world’s largest survey telescope, shows the spectacular star-forming region known as the Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter) and its surroundings. In views of this evocative object in visible light the core of the nebula is completely hidden behind obscuring dust, but in this VISTA view, taken in infrared light, the cluster of very young stars at the object’s heart is revealed. The wide-field VISTA view also includes the glow of the reflection nebula NGC 2023, just below centre, and the ghostly outline of the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) towards the lower right. The bright bluish star towards the right is one of the three bright stars forming the Belt of Orion. Credit: ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

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Helix Nebula

This colour-composite image of the Helix Nebula was created from images obtained using the the Wide Field Imager (WFI), an astronomical camera attached to the 2.2-metre Max-Planck Society/ESO telescope at the La Silla observatory in Chile. The blue-green glow in the centre of the Helix comes from oxygen atoms shining under effects of the intense ultraviolet radiation of the 120,000 degree Celsius central star and the hot gas. Further out from the star and beyond the ring of knots, the red colour from hydrogen and nitrogen is more prominent. A careful look at the central part of this object reveals not only the knots, but also many remote galaxies seen right through the thinly spread glowing gas. Credit: ESO

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The Horsehead Nebula

A reproduction of a composite colour image of the Horsehead Nebula and its immediate surroundings. This was produced from three images. Credit: ESO

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360-degree look at the southern sky

The Milky Way arches across this rare 360-degree panorama of the night sky above the Paranal platform, home of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image was made from 37 individual frames with a total exposure time of about 30 minutes, taken in the early morning hours. The Moon is just rising and the zodiacal light shines above it, while the Milky Way stretches across the sky opposite the observatory. To the right in the image and below the arc of the Milky Way, two of our galactic neighbours, the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, can be seen. Credit: ESO/H.H. Heyer

The Tinker Bell Triplet

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, an international team of astronomers has discovered a stunning rare case of a triple merger of galaxies. This system, which astronomers have dubbed 'The Bird' - although it also bears resemblance with a cosmic Tinker Bell - is composed of two massive spiral galaxies and a third irregular galaxy. The image has allowed astronomers to not only see the two previously known galaxies, but to identify a third, clearly separate component, an irregular, yet fairly massive galaxy that seems to form stars at a frantic rate. The final colour image was produced by Henri Boffin (ESO). Credit: ESO

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Crab Nebula

This photo shows a three color composite of the well-known Crab Nebula (also known as Messier 1), as observed with the FORS2 instrument in imaging mode in the morning of November 10, 1999. It is the remnant of a supernova explosion at a distance of about 6,000 light-years, observed almost 1,000 years ago, in the year 1054. It contains a neutron star near its center that spins 30 times per second around its axis. In this picture, the green light is predominantly produced by hydrogen emission from material ejected by the star that exploded. The blue light is predominantly emitted by very high-energy electrons that spiral in a large-scale magnetic field (so-called syncrotron emission). Credit: ESO

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Twin Explosions In Gigantic Dusty Potato Crisp

The beautiful edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 3190 with tightly wound arms and a warped shape that makes it resemble a gigantic potato crisp, as seen by ESO's Very Large Telescope. Supernova SN 2002bo is found in between the 'V' of the dust lanes in the south-western part of NGC 3190. SN 2002cv is obscured by a large amount of dust and is therefore not visible. The data extraction from the archive, data reduction and final colour processing of the image was done by Henri Boffin (ESO). Credit: ESO

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Christmas Tree Nebula

This colour image of the region known as NGC 2264 — an area of sky that includes the sparkling blue baubles of the Christmas Tree star cluster and the Cone Nebula — was created from data taken through four different filters (B, V, R and H-alpha) with the Wide Field Imager at ESO's La Silla Observatory, 2400 m high in the Atacama Desert of Chile in the foothills of the Andes. The image shows a region of space about 30 light-years across. Credit: ESO

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