Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra on M 101

Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra on M 101

As part of the celebration in honor of the International Year of Astronomy, and the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discoveries, NASA has released special images made at each of its associated observatories: the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Each observatory has turned its scopes, using a variety of equipment and wave lengths, to the spiral galaxy known as Messier 101, or M 101. Hubble provided an optical view, Spitzer an infrared, and Chandra an X-ray view. The data from each observatory was combined to create a single image, linked above.

M 101 is a spiral galaxy, larger but otherwise much like our own milky way, and located in the constellation Ursa Major. M 101's nickname is "the Pinwheel Galaxy," because, well, the gas clouds formed around the stars make it look very like a pinwheel.

The Hubble image, embedded to the left, was superimposed and composited with images from the ground-based observatories, visible at the edge of the image, from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, and a telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.

The Spitzer image to the right was taken with infrared light and shows the dust and dense gas clouds that will, possibly, collapse to make new stars. The X-ray images from Chandra shows the past, including the remains of exploded stars, now dead, or the tracks of matter being pulled in towards black stars. There's a video, with annotations, showing each of the image types, and the composite, here. There's an image here, showing how the composites were all combined to create the first image, above.