This infrared view from the
Herschel Space Observatory explores
the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest large spiral galaxy to
our own Milky Way.
Only 2.5 million light-years distant, the
famous island universe is also
known to astronomers as M31.
over 200,000 light-years making it more the twice
the size of the Milky Way.
Shown in false color,
data reveal the cool
dust lanes and clouds that still
shine in the
infrared but are
otherwise dark and opaque at visual wavelengths.
Red hues near the galaxy's outskirts represent the glow of
dust heated by starlight to a few tens of degrees above absolute zero.
Blue colors correspond to hotter dust warmed by
stars in the more crowded central core.
Also a tracer
of molecular gas, the dust
highlights Andromeda's prodigious reservoir of raw material for
future star formation.
ESA/Herschel/PACS & SPIRE Consortium, O. Krause, HSC, H. Linz