Sunday, June 8, 2014

Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, by Chandra and Hubble

Whirlpool Galaxy: A spiral galaxy located about 30 million light years from Earth.

This image contains nearly a million seconds worth of Chandra observing time (purple) along with optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, and blue). The X-ray data reveal hundreds of point-like sources, most of which are X-ray binary systems (XRBs) containing a neutron star or black hole in orbit with a star like the Sun. Researchers are studying the XRBs in M51, a.k.a. the "Whirlpool Galaxy," to better understand the role they play in the evolution of the galaxy.

Scale: Image is 6 x 10 arcmin (About 52,000 x 87,000 light years).

Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wesleyan Univ./R.Kilgard, et al; Optical: NASA/STScI

Note: For more information, see M51: Chandra Captures Galaxy Sparkling in X-Rays.

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