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ESA releases splendid new space-'scope pic of Andromeda

Neighbouring spiral galaxy refulgent in X-ray, infrared

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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's composite image of Andromeda

The Herschel space telescope captured the infrared component of the image (shown in red/orange), while the XMM-Newton observatory provided the X-ray component (blue).

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. ®

Bootnote

* Mercifully, we won't be around to see the result, because it may look something like this:

Galaxy NGC 2623 captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

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