Striking view of 'Milky Way twin'

NGC 6744 galaxy (ESO) The image "could almost be a picture postcard of our own Milky Way", said the ESO

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Astronomers have released what they say is the best-yet picture of NGC 6744, a spiral galaxy described as a "sibling" of our own Milky Way.

The image was snapped by the European Southern Observatory's MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope in Chile.

The galaxy lies 30 million light-years away, in the constellation Pavo.

While it is almost twice as large as the Milky Way, it exhibits the same sharply-defined spiral arms and stretched central region.

There is even a small companion galaxy, visible at the lower right of the image, which is analogous to our own galactic neighbours the Magellanic Clouds.

Those arms host many star-forming regions; the glow coming from hydrogen gas in these active regions shows up as red in the image.

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