Like most spiral galaxies, the starformation in M81 is taking place in the defined arms of the galaxy. Small pink balls of light show the location of a myriad of HII regions (the emission nebulae of M81). Bluish clumps hint at the uncountable numbers of new stars in the spiral arms.
Interestingly, astronomers can learn a great deal about galaxies like this by observing them various wavelengths of light. Recently the Spitzer (formerly SIRTIF), space telescope imaged M81 in the micron wavelengths of light which highlight the dust that is heated by these energetic new stars.
M81 and M82 are around 12 million light years away.
Please click on the image below to see a larger image size. Also be certain to check out this widefield image of M81 and M82.
|L R G B color production was used to create this image.||
Minimum credit line: Stefan Seip/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF
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