Galaxies take on all different manners of positions against us in the Universe. Some a above us while other are beneath us. This gives us a beautiful view of their spiral arms and core, but does not give us any 3D view of the galaxies.
Sometimes we see the galaxies at angles like NGC 3521. While this nearly fully reveals the 3d shape of the galaxy, we need an edge-on view to see it in its whole glory.
When we look at it from edge-on view we can see how the stars are distributed across the galaxy. Material gets stretched and made easier to be seen against the darker background of the cosmos.
This view allows astronomers to study the galaxy’s extended halo and its properties.
An example of this warping is the galaxy NGC 1055. It has regions of bizarre twisting and disarray, which is likely caused by the neighboring Messier 77 (eso0319). NGC 1055’s disc is slightly bent and appears to wave across the core.
The NGC 1055 galaxy is located 55 million light years away in the constellation Cetus. The image was obtained using the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph 2 (FORS2) instrument positioned on Unit Telescope 1 of the VLT, located at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. It comes from ESO’s Cosmic Gems programme, that has the initiative of producing visually intriguing object using the ESO telescopes for educational purposes.