The European Southern Observatory (ESO) used their newest scientific instrument, the Enhanced Resolution Imager and Spectrograph (ERIS), to capture a dazzling image of galaxy NGC 1097. Located 45 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax, the gaseous ring of stars you see are stellar nurseries, while the glowing center shows the heart of NGC 1097.
This instrument is mounted on the VLT’s Unit Telescope 4 and is set to take over the role of the NACO and SINFONI instruments. What really sets it apart from NACO and SINFONI is its 3D spectrograph named SPIFFIER, which is a big upgrade of SINFONI’s SPIFFI (SPectrometer for Infrared Faint Field Imaging). The spectrograph collects a spectrum from each individual pixel within its field of view, enabling astronomers to study, the dynamics of distant galaxies in great detail or measure the velocities of stars orbiting the supermassive black hole at the Milky Way’s center.
ERIS breathes new life into the fundamental adaptive optics imaging and spectroscopy capability of the VLT. Thanks to the efforts of all those involved in the project over the years, many science projects are now able to benefit from the exquisite resolution and sensitivity the instrument can achieve,” said Ric Davies, the Principal Investigator of the ERIS consortium and researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.