Thursday, June 5, 2014

Royal purple: Whirlpool Galaxy a sight to behold

Handout of colorful deep space image
The Whirlpool Galaxy as photographed by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory (NASA).

This just in: The universe is an amazing, mysterious and — as it turns out — largely purple place.
A new photograph of the Whirlpool Galaxy taken by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory gives amateur astronomers a stunning look at the swirl of stars and space.
Also known as M51, the galaxy is 30 million light years away from Earth, in the constellation Canes Venatici in the Northern Hemisphere.
Not surprisingly, the image wasn't taken on an iPhone. The picture combines data from more than 232 hours of observation time, according to NASA.
The image is a composite. Purple indicates regions that feature X-ray sources. Red, green and blue indicate optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Previous studies of M51 revealed about 100 X-ray sources, according to NASA. This newest study indicated nearly 500.
The majority of the X-ray sources are X-ray binaries, NASA explains. "These systems consist of pairs of objects where a compact star, either a neutron star or, more rarely, a black hole, is capturing material from an orbiting companion star."
While the Whirlpool Galaxy does resemble our own Milky Way, there is at least one notable difference.  The upper-right portion of the image shows the galaxy is in the process of merging with another galaxy.

article taken from Yahoo! (original link)



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