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False-colour radio image of galaxy M82

False-colour radio image of galaxy M82

R856/0019

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Credit

DR P P KRONBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P P KRONBERG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Radio image of the central 2000 light years of galaxy M82 (NGC 3034) at a wavelength of 3.7cm. Because of its optical appearance, M82 was origin- ally believed to be an exploding galaxy. But this picture & other evidence support the current view that it is a normal spiral galaxy seen edge-on. The colours in the image represent intensity of radio emission, from red (most intense) through to the outermost black contour (least intense). The red spot of intense emission is not the galactic centre, as would be expected in the exploding galaxy theory. The galactic centre is the relativ- ely weak radio source at upper left, while the red spot is a giant gas cloud heated by newborn stars.

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