M82: Images From Space Telescopes Produce Stunning View of Starburst Galaxy

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHU/D.Strickland; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA/The Hubble Heritage Team; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of AZ/C. Engelbracht



Images from three of NASA's Great Observatories were combined to create this spectacular, multiwavelength view of thestarburst galaxy M82. Optical light from stars (yellow-green/Hubble Space Telescope) shows the disk of a modest-sized, apparently normal galaxy.

Another Hubble observation designed to image 10,000 degree Celsius hydrogen gas (orange) reveals a startlingly different picture of matter blasting out of the galaxy. The Spitzer Space Telescope infrared image (red) shows that cool gas and dust are also being ejected. Chandra's X-ray image (blue) reveals gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by the violent outflow. The eruption can be traced back to the central regions of the galaxy where stars are forming at a furious rate, some 10 times faster than in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Chandra X-ray Images of M82Many of these newly formed stars are very massive and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. Vigorous mass loss from these stars before they explode, and the heat generated by the supernovas drive the gas out of the galaxy at millions of miles per hour. It is thought that the expulsion of matter from a galaxy during bursts of star formation is one of the main ways of spreading elements like carbon and oxygen throughout the universe.

The burst of star formation in M82 is thought to have been initiated by shock waves generated in a close encounter with a large nearby galaxy, M81, about 100 million years ago. These shock waves triggered the collapse of giant clouds of dust and gas in M82. In another 100 million years or so, most of the gas and dust will have been used to form stars, or blown out of the galaxy, so the starburst will subside.

GALLERY
All Images are linked to a larger version

Chandra X-ray Images of M82, Broadband & 3-Color
Chandra's X-ray image reveals gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by the violent outflow of matter blasting out of the galaxy. The eruption can be traced back to the central regions of the galaxy where stars are forming at a furious rate, some 10 times faster than in the Milky Way Galaxy. Many of these newly formed stars are very massive and race through their evolution to explode as supernovas. Vigorous mass loss from these stars before they explode, and the heat generated by the supernovas drive the gas out of the galaxy at millions of miles per hour. It is thought that the expulsion of matter from a galaxy during bursts of star formation is one of the main ways of spreading elements like carbon and oxygen throughout the universe. The Chandra X-ray image on the left is shown in the broadband color scheme used in the X-ray/infrared/optical composite.The image on the right is Chandra's 3-color X-ray view where red, green, and blue represent low, medium, and high-energy X-rays respectively.
Scale: Image is 7.9 arcmin across.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/JHU/D.Strickland)

Chandra X-ray Images of M82, Rotated 3-Color
In these Chandra X-ray images of M82, North is up. Red represents the low energy band, green intermediate, and blue the highest observed energies. The white and yellow sources are those that emit significant amounts of both low- and high-energy X-rays. The red diffuse cloud is caused by hot gas flowing away from the central region of M82. M82 is a galaxy 12 million light years from Earth that is undergoing a burst of star formation.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/JHU/D.Strickland)


Hubble Optical Image of M82
To celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's sixteenth anniversary in April 2006, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), released this image of the magnificent starburst galaxy, Messier 82 (M82). This mosaic image is the sharpest wide-angle view ever obtained of M82. The galaxy is remarkable for its bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions. The Hubble observation was made in March 2006. Astronomers assembled this 6-image composite mosaic by combining exposures taken with four colored filters that capture starlight from visible and infrared wavelengths as well as the light from the glowing hydrogen filaments.
Scale: Image is 7.9 arcmin across.
(Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA/The Hubble Heritage Team)

Spitzer Infrared Image of M82
This infrared image from the Spitzer Space telescope shows Messier 82, an irregular-shaped galaxy positioned on its side, as a diffuse bar of blue light. Fanning out from its top and bottom like the wings of a butterfly are huge red clouds of dust believed to contain a compound similar to car exhaust. The smelly material, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, can be found on Earth in tailpipes, barbecue pits and other places where combustion reactions have occurred. In galaxies, the stuff is created by stars, whose winds and radiation blow the material out into space. The Spitzer observations for this image were taken in May 2005.
Scale: Image is 7.9 arcmin across.
(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of AZ/C. Engelbracht)





Fast Facts for M82:

Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/JHU/D.Strickland; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA/The Hubble Heritage Team; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of AZ/C. Engelbracht
Scale  Image is 7.9 arcmin across
Category Normal Galaxies & Starburst Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 09h 55m 52.60s | Dec +69° 40' 47.10"
Constellation Ursa Major
Observation Dates  June 18, 2002
Observation Time  5 hours
Obs. ID  2933
Color Code  Energy (X-ray: Blue; Optical: Green & Orange; Infrared: Red)
Instrument  ACIS
Also Known As  Cigar Galaxy
Distance Estimate  About 11 - 13 million light years
Release Date  April 24, 2006









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