FromQuarkstoQuasars

Astronomy Picture of the Day: 01/21/14 – M94

Image Credit: R Jay Gabany (Blackbird Obs.), Collaboration: I. Trujillo, I. Martinez-Valpuesta, D. Martinez-Delgado ( IAC); J. Penarrubia (IoA Cambridge); M. Pohlen (Cardiff)
Image Credit: R Jay Gabany (Blackbird Obs.), Collaboration: I. Trujillo, I. Martinez-Valpuesta, D. Martinez-Delgado ( IAC); J. Penarrubia (IoA Cambridge); M. Pohlen (Cardiff)

 

This lovely image is of an object known as Messier 94 (or NGC 4736, if you’d prefer) — a spiral galaxy that is located approximately 15 million light-years from Earth (in the constellation of Canes Venatici).

 

As you can see, the inner portion of this galaxy (which trails almost 30,000 light-years across) seen face-on from our vantage point, is very bright, making it a favorite among astronomers to point their telescopes toward. In the past, optical data of the galaxy suggested that the appearance of the outskirts of the galaxy was created by a closed-stellar ring. Instead, it has an intricate series of spiral arms, much like the Milky Way does. Only, these were probably created after the galaxy absorbed a smaller satellite galaxy in orbit around M94.

 

Like most examples we’ve seen of spiral galaxies, M94 has large areas where new stars are being created. This is easily determined if the outer disk of said galaxy is active (It clearly is, in this case). This portion accounts for approximately 24% of the galaxy’s total mass, with about 10% of the galaxy’s total star formation taking place there.

 

See the galaxy at infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths here.

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