Cool, new views of Andromeda galaxy

Jan 29, 2013 by Whitney Clavin
The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/NHSC

(Phys.org)—Two new eye-catching views from the Herschel space observatory are fit for a princess. They show the elegant spiral galaxy Andromeda, named after the mythical Greek princess known for her beauty.

The , also known as Messier 31, lies 2 million light-years away, and is the closest large galaxy to our own Milky Way. It is estimated to have up to one trillion stars, whereas the Milky Way contains hundreds of billions. Recent evidence suggests Andromeda's overall mass may in fact be less than the mass of the Milky Way, when dark matter is included.

Herschel, a 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 this new view of the Andromeda galaxy from the Herschel space observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz

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.

One view, seen at www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16682 , is a mosaic of data from Herschel's Photodetecting Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) and spectral and photometric imaging receiver (SPIRE).

The second view, seen at www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16681 , shows data from only the SPIRE instrument, which captures the longest of wavelengths detectable by Herschel.

Explore further: Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Related Stories

Andromeda in a new light

Jan 05, 2011

Two ESA observatories have combined forces to show the Andromeda Galaxy in a new light. Herschel sees rings of star formation in this, the most detailed image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever taken at infrared ...

Twisted tale of our galaxy's ring

Jul 20, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- New observations from the Herschel Space Observatory show a bizarre, twisted ring of dense gas at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Only a few portions of the ring, which stretches across ...

Andromeda's coat of many colors (w/ video)

Apr 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- ESA's fleet of space telescopes has captured the nearby Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, in different wavelengths. Most of these wavelengths are invisible to the eye and each shows a different aspect ...

Herschel and Spitzer see nearby galaxies' stardust

Jan 10, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- The cold dust that builds blazing stars is revealed in new images that combine observations from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency-led mission with important NASA contributions; ...

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 ...

A new, distant arm of the Milky Way galaxy

Jun 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Our Milky Way galaxy, like other spiral galaxies, has a disk with sweeping arms of stars, gas, and dust that curve around the galaxy like the arms of a huge pinwheel.

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Apr 18, 2014

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Apr 18, 2014

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

megmaltese
1 / 5 (4) Jan 30, 2013
That blue at the center is the mess the central immense black hole does while eating stars... incredible image.
yash17
1 / 5 (7) Jan 30, 2013
"The Andromeda galaxy, also known as Messier 31, lies 2 million light-years away, and is the closest large galaxy to our own Milky Way. It is estimated to have up to one trillion stars, whereas the Milky Way contains hundreds of billions. Recent evidence suggests Andromeda's overall mass may in fact be less than the mass of the Milky Way, when dark matter is included."

"Cloud & rain model" really likes this cosmological datum, as "Car model" expects galaxies mass density in cosmos isn't homogeneous. Likewise, their size isn't homogeneous. See this;
"http://phys.org/n...se.html"

When galaxies get extremely dense, wherever they are, they will fleet back to Universe nucleus (located around behind Ursa Major & Leo constellation).

What about elusive dark energy? Dark energy isn't elusive with "Car model." There are two kinds of energy at cosmos; cosmic pressure of dark matter & gravity of Universe nucleus. That's all.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 30, 2013
That blue at the center is the mess the central immense black hole does while eating stars

Not quite. The central part you see in blue is simply very active star formation because dust concentration there is highest.
The black hole and its accretion disc are much too small to see on this image.

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.