NASA: Andromeda’s Once and Future Stars


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Two European Space Agency observatories combined forces to show the Andromeda Galaxy in a new light. Herschel sees rings of star formation in this, the most detailed image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever taken at infrared wavelengths, and XMM-Newton shows dying stars shining X-rays into space. ESA’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space observatories targeted the Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest large spiral galaxy, which like our own Milky Way contains several hundred billion stars. This is the most detailed far-infrared image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever taken and clearly shows that more stars are on their way. In this image, Herschel’s infrared image of the Andromeda Galaxy shows rings of dust that trace gaseous reservoirs where new stars are forming and XMM-Newton’s X-ray image shows stars approaching the ends of their lives. Both infrared and X-ray images convey information impossible to collect from the ground because these wavelengths are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere. For more information and images, visit the ESA site. Image Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS/SPIRE/J.Fritz, U.Gent/XMM-Newton/EPIC/W. Pietsch, MPE (More at NASA Picture Of The Day)