Andromeda's Colorful Rings

Nhsc_nhsc2013-004a_500

nhsc_nhsc2013-004a January 28th, 2013

Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Schulz (NHSC)

The ring-like swirls of dust filling the Andromeda galaxy stand out colorfully in this new image from the Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA participation.

The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbor. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimeter in size. Herschel's ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings.

The colors in this image have been enhanced to make them easier to see, but they do reflect real variations in the data. The very coldest clouds are brightest in the longest wavelengths, and colored red here, while the warmer ones take on a bluish tinge.

These data, together with those from other observatories, reveal that other dust properties, beyond just temperature, are affecting the infrared color of the image. Clumping of dust grains, or growth of icy mantles on the grains towards the outskirts of the galaxy, appear to contribute to these subtle color variations.

These observations were made by Herschel's spectral and photometric imaging receiver (SPIRE) instrument. The data were processed as part of a project to improve methods for assembling mosaics from SPIRE observations. Light with a wavelength of 250 microns is rendered as blue, 350-micron is green, and 500-micron light is red. Color saturation has been enhanced to bring out the small differences at these wavelengths.

Image Source: http://www.herschel.caltech.edu/index.php?SiteSection=ImageGallery&ViewImage=nhsc2013-004a

Curator: NASA Herschel Science Center, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Andromeda Galaxy Messier 31 M31 NGC 224
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy » Type » Spiral

Distance

Universescale2
2,500,000 light years
Nhsc_nhsc2013-004a_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 0h 42m 59.3s
DEC = 41° 20’ 6.0”
Orientation
North is 38.0° CCW
Field of View
4.7 x 2.6 degrees
Constellation
Andromeda

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Herschel (SPIRE) Infrared (Far-IR) 250.0 µm
Arrow_left_green Herschel (SPIRE) Infrared (Far-IR) 350.0 µm
Arrow_left_red Herschel (SPIRE) Infrared (Far-IR) 500.0 µm
color saturation has been enhanced to bring out subtle variations
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Nhsc_nhsc2013-004a_1280
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ID
nhsc2013-004a
Subject Category
C.5.1.1  
Subject Name
Andromeda Galaxy, Messier 31, M31, NGC 224
Credits
ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. Schulz (NHSC)
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Herschel, Herschel, Herschel
Instrument
SPIRE, SPIRE, SPIRE
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Far-IR, Far-IR, Far-IR
Central Wavelength
250000, 350000, 500000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
c
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
10.7471265, 41.3350134
Reference Dimension
2800.0, 1575.0
Reference Pixel
1401.0, 788.5
Scale
-1.66666666666700e-03, 1.66666666666700e-03
Rotation
37.99
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NASA Herschel Science Center
URL
http://www.herschel.caltech.edu/
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/
Publisher
NASA Herschel Science Center
Publisher ID
nhsc
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/nhsc/nhsc2013-004a
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2017-09-21T00:00:01Z
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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Universescalefull
2,500,000 light years