Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2004 June 1
Explanation: Star formation occurs at a faster pace in M82 -- a galaxy with about ten times the rate of massive star birth (and death) compared to our Milky Way. Winds from massive stars and blasts from supernova explosions have created a billowing cloud of expanding gas from this remarkable starburst galaxy. The above scientifically colour-coded image highlights the complexity and origin of the plume by combining a wide field image from the WIYN Telescope in Arizona with a smaller high-resolution image from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. M82's aspect in optical pictures has led to its popular moniker, the Cigar Galaxy. M82's burst of star formation was likely triggered a mere 100 million years ago in the latest of a series of bouts with neighbouring large galaxy M81.
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NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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& Michigan Tech. U.