M82, central region, as photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The image was composed from 3 images: Blue at 439 nm, 4100 sec; Green at 555 nm, 3100 sec, and red at 814 nm (2100 sec), and processed by Mischa Schirmer. The field ov view is about 2.5x2.5 arc minutes and is centered on near M82's nucleus.
Hubble Space Telescope's WFPC2 was used to obtain this stunningly beautiful image of the nuclear region of starburst galaxy M82. The ongoing violent star formation due to an ancient encounter with its large galactic neighbor, M81, gives this galaxy its disturbed appearance. The smaller picture shows which part of the galaxy was imaged by Hubble, on a 1994 image taken by the Kitt Peak National Observatory's 0.9-meter telescope.
The WFPC2 image shows huge lanes of dust that crisscross M82's disk, another sign of the flurry of star formation. Below the center and to the right, a strong galactic wind is spewing knotty filaments of hydrogen and nitrogen gas.
More than 100 "super" star clusters - very bright, compact groupings of about 100,000 stars - are seen in this detailed Hubble picture as white dots sprinkled throughout M82's central region. The dark region just above the center of the picture is a huge dust cloud. A collaboration of European and American scientists used these clusters to date the ancient interaction between M82 and M81. About 600 million years ago, a region called "M82 B" (the bright area just below and to the left of the central dust cloud) exploded with new stars. Scientists have discovered that this ancient starburst was triggered by the violent encounter with M81.
The Hubble picture was taken Sept. 15, 1997. The natural-color composite was constructed from three Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 exposures, which were combined in chromatic order: 4,250 seconds through a blue filter (428 nm); 2,800 seconds through a green filter (520 nm); and 2,200 seconds through a red (820 nm) filter.
Credits: Hubble image: NASA, ESA, R. de Grijs (Institute of
Astronomy, Cambridge, UK)
Ground-based picture: N.A. Sharp/AURA/NOAO/NSF
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped these two views of the heart of the galaxy M82. The image at left was taken in visible light; the picture at right, in infrared light. In the infrared view, the telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer peered through thick dust lanes to find some of the galaxy's more than 100 super star clusters. The clusters are the larger pink and yellow dots scattered throughout the picture. They were formed during a violent collision with the galaxy M81 about 600 million years ago. The pictures were taken Sept. 15, 1997.
Credits: NASA, ESA, R. de Grijs (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK)
Last Modification: July 31, 2000