The gorgeous Whirlpool galaxy, also called Messier 51, is a favorite goal for novice astronomers, two galaxies within the means of gravitationally merging, one a spectacular face-on spiral, the opposite a way more compact however nonetheless extremely luminous starswarm. Each function supermassive black holes of their cores. On this Andy Warhol-like sequence of photos, a visible-light view at far left, captured by the Kitt Peak Nationwide Observatory’s 2.1-metre (6.8-foot) telescope, exhibits M51’s spiral arms and the mud lanes that obscure background stars. The second body from left combines two visible-light wavelengths with infrared information from Spitzer, emphasising the mud lanes within the spiral arms. The third panel from left exhibits M51 in three wavelengths of infrared mild (from 3.6 to eight microns), highlighting reddish mud clouds largely made up of carbon together with a bluish haze representing the blended mild of billions of stars. The far-right panel extends the infrared view to a wavelength of 24 microns, highlighting areas the place the mud is extraordinarily sizzling. The intense reddish-white concentrations point out areas the place stars are within the means of forming and heating the encompassing surroundings.
The infrared views of M51b, the smaller companion, present a close to complete absence of the mud lanes seen within the decrease spiral. The faint blue haze might mirror the blended mild of stars ejected from each galaxies by the continuing gravitational interplay.