April 18th, 2008

galaxy M51

Astro-Image of the Day: Southern Pinwheel Galaxy

Ooooh, pretty:

Click the image to see the story.

This new image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer shows baby stars sprouting in the backwoods of a galaxy - a relatively desolate region of space more than 100,000 light-years from the galaxy's bustling center.

The striking image, a composite of ultraviolet data from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and radio data from the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array in New Mexico, shows the Southern Pinwheel galaxy, also known simply as M83.

In the new view, the main spiral, or stellar, disk of M83 looks like a pink and blue pinwheel, while its outer arms appear to flap away from the galaxy like giant red streamers. It is within these so-called extended galaxy arms that, to the surprise of astronomers, new stars are forming.

In normal light, M83 looks like this:

Click the image to see the story.

(Still beautiful, I'd say.)