The face-on picture of NGC 6744 was obtained using the Wide Field Imager of the 2.2- meter telescope at La Silla Observatory in northern Chile. It provides a magnificent view of the structure of the galaxy. NGC 6744 is shown as a galaxy with bright spiral arms surrounding a disk of dust and a dense elongated nucleus. This is very close as the Milky Way, our own galaxy, may be seen from space
. The picture also shows a neighbouring galaxy known as NGC 6744A, visible as a bright difuse stain on the bottom right of the picture. NGC 6744A is equivalent to one of the Magellanic Clouds, a couple of dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way.
The main difference between NGC 6744 and the Milky Way is its size. Our galaxy is about 100 000 light-years long, while NGC 6744 is almost twice that size.
The picture is the best so far of NGC 6744. This galaxy is one of the closest to the Milky Way and one of the largest spiral galaxies known. According to ESO, it has the brightness of 60 billion suns
. It is also one of the most beautiful objects
of the southern sky because of its many and distinct arms, its oval shape and the rich background of neighbouring stars. The spiral arms harbour many bright star-forming regions (the reddish dots), giving this galaxy a striking resemblance to our Milky Way.
La Silla Observatory is located at almost 2400 meters of altitude in the Region of Coquimbo near the Atacama Desert in Chile. This observatory is one of three sites operated by ESO in Chile. The other two observatories are Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope (VLT), the most advanced optical observatory in the world.
The European Southern Observatory has built and operates some of the largest and most technologically advanced telescopes in the world. These include the New Technology Telescope (NTT) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT), a complex consisting of four 8-metre primary telescopes and four 1.8-metre auxiliary telescopes. Current ESO projects include the development of the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) an optical and infrared telescope near 42 meters in diameter, which will become "the world's largest eye in the sky".