Click to enlargeSpitzer M31 Andromeda in Red Photo

Buy this M31 Andromeda in Red photo. High quality Spitzer space picture, poster, slide, or Duratrans backlit transparency. NASA photograph PIA03031. Wide variety of sizes.
Click to see selection as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) - October 20, 2005


NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured this stunning infrared view of the famous galaxy Messier 31, also known as Andromeda. Spitzer's 24-micron mosaic is the sharpest image ever taken of the dust in a spiral galaxy, other than our Milky Way. Asymmetrical features are seen in the prominent ring of star formation, which appears to be split into two pieces, forming the hole to the lower right. These features may have been caused by interactions with satellite galaxies around Andromeda as they plunged through its disk.

At optical wavelengths, the center of the galaxy is dominated by a large bulge. This bulge is far less pronounced in the Spitzer 24-micron infrared image, allowing us to see the delicate tracings of spiral arms in the inner region that reach into the center of the galaxy. One sees the scattering of stars within Andromeda, but only select stars that are wrapped in envelopes of dust light up at infrared wavelengths.

The data were taken on August 25, 2004, the one-year anniversary of the launch of the space telescope. The observations have been transformed into this remarkable gift from Spitzer the most detailed infrared image of the spectacular galaxy to date.

Addition Date: October 13, 2005
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University AZ


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