Galactic wheels within wheels

How many rings do you see in this striking new image of the galaxy Messier 94 (NGC 4736) as seen by the infrared eyes of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope? While at first glance one might see a number of them, astronomers believe there is just one.
Historically, Messier 94 was considered to have two strikingly different rings: a brilliant, compact band encircling the galaxy’s core, and a faint, broad, swath of stars falling outside its main disk.
Astronomers have recently discovered that the outer ring, seen here in the deep blue glow of starlight, may actually be more of an optical illusion. This more complete picture of Messier 94 indicates that we are really seeing two separate spiral arms that, from our perspective, take on the appearance of a single, unbroken ring.
The bright inner ring of Messier 94 is very real, however. This area is sometimes identified as a “starburst ring” because of the frenetic pace of star formation in this confined area. Starbursts like this can often be triggered by gravitational encounters with other galaxies, but in this case may instead be caused by the galaxy’s oval shape.
Tucked in between the inner starburst ring and the outer ring-like arms we find the galaxy’s disk, striated with greenish filaments of dust. While, at first glance, these dusty arcs look like a collection of rings, they actually follow tightly wound spiral arcs.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SINGS Team

Galactic wheels within wheels

How many rings do you see in this striking new image of the galaxy Messier 94 (NGC 4736) as seen by the infrared eyes of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope? While at first glance one might see a number of them, astronomers believe there is just one.

Historically, Messier 94 was considered to have two strikingly different rings: a brilliant, compact band encircling the galaxy’s core, and a faint, broad, swath of stars falling outside its main disk.

Astronomers have recently discovered that the outer ring, seen here in the deep blue glow of starlight, may actually be more of an optical illusion. This more complete picture of Messier 94 indicates that we are really seeing two separate spiral arms that, from our perspective, take on the appearance of a single, unbroken ring.

The bright inner ring of Messier 94 is very real, however. This area is sometimes identified as a “starburst ring” because of the frenetic pace of star formation in this confined area. Starbursts like this can often be triggered by gravitational encounters with other galaxies, but in this case may instead be caused by the galaxy’s oval shape.

Tucked in between the inner starburst ring and the outer ring-like arms we find the galaxy’s disk, striated with greenish filaments of dust. While, at first glance, these dusty arcs look like a collection of rings, they actually follow tightly wound spiral arcs.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SINGS Team

  1. tsuukie reblogged this from distant-traveller
  2. ancestralvoidness reblogged this from deathrayglare
  3. zkanieve reblogged this from saturated-colour
  4. saturated-colour reblogged this from celestialsubsistence
  5. nalers reblogged this from stayindi
  6. clouds-are-my-friends reblogged this from blu3-m00n
  7. blu3-m00n reblogged this from marianamystic
  8. reckless-redhead reblogged this from marianamystic
  9. place-of-bliss reblogged this from psychedelicsound
  10. spacecadetomoly reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  11. wondersofthestars reblogged this from queendepique
  12. pussysquishy reblogged this from marianamystic
  13. flor-e-n-c-e reblogged this from anti-0rgasm
  14. tinyfruitbat reblogged this from mentalalchemy
  15. squishy-ass-witch reblogged this from physicscaucie
  16. itsphantastic reblogged this from shreddingthemoon
  17. gee-doll reblogged this from 3p1phany
  18. 3p1phany reblogged this from shreddingthemoon
  19. shreddingthemoon reblogged this from psychedelicsound
  20. frumious-ming reblogged this from audiovisualrecall
  21. audiovisualrecall reblogged this from thehiddlestonepidemic
  22. thehiddlestonepidemic reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  23. babyfa-e reblogged this from astronemma
  24. queendepique reblogged this from physicscaucie
  25. luthienpeverell reblogged this from physicscaucie
  26. fieldnotesfromabroad reblogged this from physicscaucie
  27. physicscaucie reblogged this from astronemma
  28. rememberalecs reblogged this from flyyyyyyyyy
  29. watchforthebluebox reblogged this from flyyyyyyyyy
  30. flyyyyyyyyy reblogged this from n-a-s-a
  31. indigo-daydreams reblogged this from karissa-is-sugar-high
  32. karissa-is-sugar-high reblogged this from cosmic-trails
  33. the-anesthetic reblogged this from pretend-time

Theme NIGHTNIGHT by DEDDY

Hit Counter