Astronomy Picture of the Day

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.

2001 November 6
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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In the Center of Spiral Galaxy M83
Credit: Roberto Soria (MSSL, UCL) et al., HST, ESA, NASA

Explanation: What's happening at the center of spiral galaxy M83? Just about everything, from the looks of it. M83, visible in the inset image on the upper left, is one of the closest spiral galaxies to our own Milky Way Galaxy and from a distance of 15 million light-years, appears to be relatively normal. Zooming in on M83's nucleus with the latest telescopes, however, shows the center to be an energetic and busy place. Visible in the above image from the Hubble Space Telescope are bright, newly formed stars and giant lanes of dark dust. An image with similar perspective from the Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the region is also rich in very hot gas and small bright sources. Observations with large the ground-based VLT telescopes show the very center likely has two separate nuclei.

Tomorrow's picture: Mysterious Column of Light

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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& Michigan Tech. U.