Amazing Andromeda Galaxy

October 3, 2006
Amazing Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda galaxy, in a new composite image from NASA´s Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The many "personalities" of our great galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, are exposed in this new composite image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

The wide, ultraviolet eyes of Galaxy Evolution Explorer reveal Andromeda's "fiery" nature -- hotter regions brimming with young and old stars. In contrast, Spitzer's super-sensitive infrared eyes show Andromeda's relatively "cool" side, which includes embryonic stars hidden in their dusty cocoons.

Galaxy Evolution Explorer detected young, hot, high-mass stars, which are represented in blue, while populations of relatively older stars are shown as green dots. The bright yellow spot at the galaxy's center depicts a particularly dense population of old stars.

Swaths of red in the galaxy's disk indicate areas where Spitzer found cool, dusty regions where stars are forming. These stars are still shrouded by the cosmic clouds of dust and gas that collapsed to form them.

Together, Galaxy Evolution Explorer and Spitzer complete the picture of Andromeda's swirling spiral arms. Hints of pinkish purple depict regions where the galaxy's populations of hot, high-mass stars and cooler, dust-enshrouded stars co-exist.

Located 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda is our largest nearby galactic neighbor. The galaxy's entire disk spans about 260,000 light-years, which means that a light beam would take 260,000 years to travel from one end of the galaxy to the other. By comparison, our Milky Way galaxy's disk is about 100,000 light-years across.

This image is a false color composite comprised of data from Galaxy Evolution Explorer's far-ultraviolet detector (blue), near-ultraviolet detector (green), and Spitzer's multiband imaging photometer at 24 microns (red).

Source: NASA, by Whitney Clavin

Explore further: NASA missions harvest a passel of 'pumpkin' stars

Related Stories

NASA missions harvest a passel of 'pumpkin' stars

October 27, 2016

Astronomers using observations from NASA's Kepler and Swift missions have discovered a batch of rapidly spinning stars that produce X-rays at more than 100 times the peak levels ever seen from the sun. The stars, which spin ...

What is galactic evolution?

October 7, 2016

On a clear night, you can make out the band of the Milky Way in the night sky. For millennia, astronomers looked upon it in awe, slowly coming to the realization that our Sun was merely one of billions of stars in the galaxy. ...

Using oxygen as a tracer of galactic evolution

October 7, 2016

A new study led by University of California, Riverside astronomers casts light on how young, hot stars ionize oxygen in the early universe and the effects on the evolution of galaxies through time.

UMass Amherst leads international astronomical camera project

October 19, 2016

New discoveries in star formation, galaxy cluster physics, ultra-deep galactic exploration and magnetic field surveys of the universe are coming soon, say a team of astronomers led by Grant Wilson at the University of Massachusetts ...

Recommended for you

How planets like Jupiter form

October 28, 2016

Young giant planets are born from gas and dust. Researchers of ETH Zürich and the Universities of Zürich and Bern simulated different scenarios relying on the computing power of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre ...

A dead star's ghostly glow

October 27, 2016

The eerie glow of a dead star, which exploded long ago as a supernova, reveals itself in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula. But don't be fooled. The ghoulish-looking object still has a pulse. Buried ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.