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NASA image: X-Rays from the Whirlpool Galaxy

Image: NASA, CXC, R. Kilgard

Image: NASA, CXC, R. Kilgard


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, June 15, 2014, 2:31 PM -

What you're seeing up above is what happens when NASA points a state-of-the-art X-ray telescope at the Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51a or NGC 5194.

NASA's Chandra X-Ray observatory scanned the well-known galaxy and its smaller companion, to come up with the image above.

"The number of luminous X-Ray sources, likely neutron star and black hole binary systems within the confines of M51, is unusually high for normal spiral or elliptical galaxies and suggests this cosmic whirlpool has experienced intense bursts of massive star formation," NASA writes in the description of the picture, which was posted as NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day last week.

The false colour image makes the galaxy look even more incredible. Here's what it looks like in visual light:

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

In the top, false-colour image, NASA says the X-ray emissions come from super-heated gas from supernova explosions.

As you can see in the top image, there's plenty of activity in the cores of both the Whirlpool Galaxy and its companion.

The Whirlpool is around 23 million light years away from our own Milky Way galaxy.


EVEN COOLER: NASA released a four-year timelapse of an exploding supernova. See it below.


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