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.

2004 June 1
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Supergalactic Wind from Starburst Galaxy M82
Credit: M. Westmoquette (UCL), J. Gallagher (U. Wisconsin-Madison), L. Smith (UCL), WIYN/NSF, HST, NASA/ESA

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 color-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 neighboring large galaxy M81.

Tomorrow's picture: star clouds

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