Tuesday, May 24, 2022

M31 galaxy composite image

To some of you this galaxy may not say anything, while the more experienced may be able to recognize M31, which, at 2.5 million light years away, is the closest large galaxy ever to the Milky Way.

Even for the more experienced, this image could be confusing. This is due to the fact that we are seeing a composite image that combines observations made in the wavelengths of visible light and infrared rays.

The visible data, obtained with the Hubble, Subaru and Mayall telescopes, show the galaxy as we are used to seeing it, with a white yellow central bulge and blue spiral arms crossed by bands of brown dust. These data allow to highlight where the stars are currently: the white yellow indicates in fact the presence of ancient stars, while the blue indicates young hot stars just formed.

The infrared data, obtained by Spitzer, are orange yellow. These areas emphasize the dust inside the spiraling arms. Dust is associated with star-forming regions and therefore infrared allows you to trace the stars that will form in the next millions of years!

Credit: NASA, NSF, NOAJ, Hubble, Subaru, Mayall, DSS, Spitzer, Robert Gendler, Russell Croman.

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