The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda Galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. // Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/NHSC
Two new eye-catching views from the Herschel Space Observatory are fit for a princess. They show the elegant spiral galaxy Andromeda, named after the mythical Greek princess known for her beauty.
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) lies 2 million light-years away, and it is the closest large galaxy to our Milky Way. It is estimated to have up to 1 trillion stars, whereas the Milky Way contains hundreds of billions. Recent evidence suggests Andromeda’s overall mass may in fact be less than the mass of the Milky Way, when dark matter is included.
In this new view of the Andromeda Galaxy from the Herschel Space Observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet. Herschel is a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation. // Credit: ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz
Herschel, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions, sees the longer-wavelength infrared light from the galaxy, revealing its rings of cool dust. Some of this dust is the coldest in the galaxy — only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero.
In both views, warmer dust is highlighted in the central regions by different colors. New stars are being born in this central crowded hub and throughout the galaxy’s rings in dusty knots. Spokes of dust can also be seen between the rings.