Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82)

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(ORDO NEWS) — Here is an infrared image of the Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82), obtained on March 16, 2006 using NASA‘s Spitzer Space Telescope . The Cigar Galaxy is about 12 million light-years from Earth.

In the optical range, the Cigar (picture below) looks like a luminous band against the dark background of the Universe.

However, infrared observations revealed clouds of hot gas above and below the plane of the galaxy.

In addition, using three of Spitzer’s sensitive instruments, the astronomers were able to detect a huge hidden halo of hazy dust (red in the image).

Cigar Galaxy Messier 82 2
Messier 82 in the optical range. Photo taken January 22, 2014/ © UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright – UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences

These specific dust particles (red) are ejected into space by young and extremely hot stars in the galaxy (blue).

Spitzer’s infrared spectrograph helped determine that the dust around the Cigar was saturated with carbon-containing compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

On Earth, this “stinky molecule” can be found anywhere where combustion reactions have taken place (for example, in car exhaust pipes).


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