ESA releases splendid new space-'scope pic of Andromeda
Neighbouring spiral galaxy refulgent in X-ray, infrared
The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an impressive composite snap of the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way – an infrared and X-ray mélange showing Andromeda in all its glory:
ESA explains that "Herschel sees clouds of cool dust and gas where stars can form", while XMM-Newton "highlights hundreds of X-ray sources within Andromeda".
Some of the latter, ESA elaborates, are "shockwaves and debris rolling through space from exploded stars", while others are "pairs of stars locked in a gravitational fight to the death".
Andromeda, aka M31, lies at 2.5 million light-years from Earth. It's estimated to contain a trillion stars, and in around 4.5 billion years will be involved in an almighty galactic pile-up* with our own 200 to 400 billion-star spiral home. ®
ESA has more on the image here. ®
* Mercifully, we won't be around to see the result, because it may look something like this: