Striking view of 'Milky Way twin'
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.