A pinwheel in many colors

May 25, 2012
This image of the Pinwheel Galaxy, or also known as M101, combines data in the infrared, visible, ultraviolet and X-rays from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. This multi-spectral view shows that both young and old stars are evenly distributed along M101's tightly-wound spiral arms. Such composite images allow astronomers to see how features in one part of the spectrum match up with those seen in other parts. It is like seeing with a regular camera, an ultraviolet camera, night-vision goggles and X-ray vision, all at the same time.

(Phys.org) -- This image of the Pinwheel Galaxy, or also known as M101, combines data in the infrared, visible, ultraviolet and X-rays from four of NASA's space-based telescopes. This multi-spectral view shows that both young and old stars are evenly distributed along M101's tightly-wound spiral arms. Such composite images allow astronomers to see how features in one part of the spectrum match up with those seen in other parts. It is like seeing with a regular camera, an ultraviolet camera, night-vision goggles and X-ray vision, all at the same time.

The Pinwheel Galaxy is in the constellation of Ursa Major (also known as the Big Dipper). It is about 70% larger than our own , with a diameter of about 170,000 light years, and sits at a distance of 21 million light years from Earth. This means that the light we're seeing in this image left the Pinwheel Galaxy about 21 million years ago - many millions of years before humans ever walked the Earth.

The hottest and most energetic areas in this composite image are shown in purple, where the Chandra X-ray Observatory observed the X-ray emission from exploded stars, million-degree gas, and material colliding around black holes.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum. Wavelengths and energies from gamma rays to radio.

The red colors in the image show infrared light, as seen by the . These areas show the heat emitted by dusty lanes in the galaxy, where stars are forming.

The yellow component is visible light, observed by the . Most of this light comes from stars, and they trace the same spiral structure as the dust lanes seen in the infrared.

The blue areas are ultraviolet light, given out by hot, young stars that formed about 1 million years ago, captured by the (GALEX).

Explore further: Comet Jacques makes a 'questionable' appearance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Amazing Andromeda Galaxy

Oct 03, 2006

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.

Spitzer captures infrared rays from a sunflower

Mar 04, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The various spiral arm segments of the Sunflower galaxy, also known as Messier 63, show up vividly in this image taken in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared light is ...

Akari's observations of galaxy M101

Sep 07, 2007

M101 is a spiral galaxy, 170 000 light-years in diameter. AKARI’s new observations reveal differing populations of stars spread across its spiral arms.

Spectacular Hubble View of Centaurus A

Jun 16, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced a close-up view of the galaxy Centaurus A. Hubble’s out-of-this-world location and world-class Wide Field Camera 3 instrument reveal a ...

Spitzer sees spider web of stars

Jul 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Those aren't insects trapped in a spider's web -- they're stars in our own Milky Way galaxy, lying between us and another spiral galaxy called IC 342. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope captured ...

The two-faced whirlpool galaxy

Jan 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- These images by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show off two dramatically different face-on views of the spiral galaxy M51, dubbed the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Recommended for you

Comet Jacques makes a 'questionable' appearance

4 hours ago

What an awesome photo! Italian amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri nailed it earlier today using a remote telescope in New Mexico and wide-field 4-inch (106 mm) refractor. Currently the brightest comet in ...

Image: Our flocculent neighbour, the spiral galaxy M33

4 hours ago

The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the ...

Image: Chandra's view of the Tycho Supernova remnant

Jul 25, 2014

More than four centuries after Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe first observed the supernova that bears his name, the supernova remnant it created is now a bright source of X-rays. The supersonic expansion of ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tuxford
1 / 5 (5) May 25, 2012
And the name should give one a clue as to the structure. Looks like a spinning firework, spraying matter into the universe. Perhaps it really is!

http://phys.org/n...wer.html