10 June 2013
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“The face-on Pinwheel spiral galaxy is seen at ultraviolet wavelengths in this image taken by ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope.
Also known as M101, the galaxy lies 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It measures 170 000 light-years across – nearly twice the diameter of our own Milky Way Galaxy – and contains at least a trillion stars. About a billion of these stars could be similar to our own Sun.
More often seen in visible light, here the Pinwheel Galaxy glows at ultraviolet wavelengths. Massive, hot young stars streaming with ultraviolet radiation mark out the galaxy’s spiral arms with bright pockets of forming stars.
Since the largest stars are the shortest lived, with a maximum lifespan of a few million years, studying the ultraviolet radiation being emitted by a distant galaxy is a good way…
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