M101: optical and X-ray
Credit:M. Watson & K. Kuntz; Rosemary Willatt; ESA

Two Views of a Grand Design

The Pinwheel Galaxy, Messier 101, is one of the first and most striking examples of the "grand design" spiral galaxies. Spiral galaxies are some of the most interesting locales in the Universe: full of gas and dust, where multitudes of new stars form while old ones, and some quite young, pass into oblivion. The image above shows (in grayscale) an optical image of M101, showing all the beautiful spiral structure that has so entranced professional and amateur astronomers. In color is an X-ray image, obtained by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, overlaid on top of the optical image. The X-ray image doesn't show the beautiful structure seen in the optical image, but does reveal the most interesting population within the galaxy: sources of high energy radiation marking the locations of collapsed objects, strong gravity, gas radiating at millions of degrees, and other extreme objects.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Wednesday, 19-Mar-2014 21:19:48 EDT

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