January 29th, 2013 by James Ayre
The Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way (our Galaxy), has been captured in two new “eye-catching” images taken by the Herschel space observatory.
Located about two million light years away, the Andromeda galaxy (Messier 31), is the closest large galaxy us. It’s estimated to contain a good number more stars than the Milky Way, but less overall mass.
“Herschel, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions, sees the longer-wavelength infrared light from the galaxy, revealing its rings of cool dust. Some of this dust is the very coldest in the galaxy — only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero.”
“In both views, warmer dust is highlighted in the central regions by different colors. New stars are being born in this central, crowded hub, and throughout the galaxy’s rings in dusty knots. Spokes of dust can also be seen between the rings.”
The first image was created from data taken by Herschel’s Photodetecting Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and spectral and photometric imaging receiver (SPIRE). And the second, only from data taken by the SPIRE instrument. The SPIRE instruments captures the longest of wavelengths detectable by Herschel.
“Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA’s Herschel Project Office is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel’s three science instruments.”
Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Image Credits: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/NHSC
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