Monday, May 9, 2011

Composite Image of Messier 101 Spiral Galaxy

http://www.spacetelescope.org/static/archives/images/screen/opo0907b.jpg

This composite image features views from the Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Each wavelength features different aspects of celestial objects. By creating composites we can see new objects that could not otherwise be studied.

The red color comes from the Spitzer's view in infrared light. It highlights the heat emitted by dust lanes in the galaxy where stars can form. The yellow color is Hubble's view in visible light. The blue color indicates Chandra's view in X-ray light. Sources of X-rays include million-degree gas, exploded stars, and material colliding around black holes. Such composite images allow astronomers to see how features seen in one wavelength match up with those seen in another wavelength. It's like seeing with a camera, night vision goggles, and X-ray vision at the same time.

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