Cigar galaxy (M82), optical image. This galaxy lies around 12 million light years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Its irregular shape is due to the distorting gravitational effects of its close neighbour, the larger galaxy M81 (not seen). The interactions have stimulated star birth and death within M82 to around 10 times the normal level. The red regions are areas where radiation from hot young stars have ionised the surrounding hydrogen gas, causing it to glow. There is a strong stellar wind from the centre of the galaxy, caused by supernovae, or explosive star deaths.
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