Many Faces of Andromeda

The Andromeda galaxy is one of my favorite galaxies, so the latest images from the European Space Agency (ESA) are a real treat.  Using the Hershel observatory to take Andromeda’s portrait in the infrared and the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory to capture the galaxy’s image in the high energy spectrum, ESA has produced a composite image that shows the star birthing and dying regions of the galaxy in the highest resolution to date.

Multispectral views of Andromeda from ESA's Hershel and Newton

      The top right image show the galaxy in the infrared as taken by Hershel.  This shows the regions of the galaxy where there are concentrations of dust that harbor the development and birth of stars.  The image at the lower right shows the regions hot with X-rays, which is indicative of gas being heated to extremely high temperatures from the shockwaves produced when stars meet their end as novas and supernovas. X-rays can also be generated as one star pulls material from another in a binary pair.  This gas is heated to high temperatures as it is accelerated in its fall to the parasite star.

     The image also shows a high concentration of X-rays at the center of the galaxy, which is to be expected because of the high density of stars there and the resident supermassive black hole that resides at the core of the galaxy. If you look closely at the X-ray image there appears to be a bubble surrounding the core of the galaxy.  Possibly a shockwave propagating outward from the core, indicating a more active period of the galaxy’s massive black hole. Be sure to check the links to see the all the detail in these great high-resolution images.

     Take a look at ESA’s website for more information on these new images of Andromeda.

Till next time,

RC Davison

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  1. Pingback: Andromeda – Beyond the Blue | Orbital Maneuvers' Blog

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