Telescopes capture spectacular image of Earth's nearest galaxy

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Scientists captured the Andromeda Galaxy in a stunning new spiral mosaic for the first time using two telescopes working together.

Two space telescopes working together have taken a spectacular new photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 lit up like a neon sign Photo: ESA The galaxy, also known as Messier 31, is a twin of our own Milky Way, and a whirlpool of hundreds of billions of stars. It is like a Catherine wheel firework tilted away from us.

Though our closest neighbour, it lies 2.5 million light-years away, so that we see it as it was before Mankind’s earliest ancestors appeared on Earth.

The orangey-red rings are cooler dusty regions where new stars are being born and which Europe’s heat-seeking telescope Herschel observed through its infrared eyes.

The orangey-red rings are cooler dusty regions where new stars are being born and which Europe's heat-seeking telescope Herschel observed through its infrared eyes Photo: ESA Superimposed are bright blue glows marking violent spots where stars are dying, black holes forming and pairs of stars are locked in gravitational battles to survive.

The blue picture was taken with another space observatory, XMM-Newton, which watches the cosmos with X-ray vision.

Both images, released as a composite on Wednesday by the European Space Agency, were taken over Christmas.

The view would be impossible from Earth because both X-rays and infrared radiation from space is absorbed by our own atmosphere. But it is visible in normal light on dark nights as the furthest object visible with the naked eye.


Author: Andrew Hough | Source: The Telegraph [January 05, 2011]


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