Image courtesy ESA

The Andromeda galaxy burns like a blazing whirlpool in the most detailed infrared picture yet of our nearest full-size galactic neighbor, released Wednesday. The European Space Agency’s Herschel space telescope captured this image in December 2010.

With its infrared eye, Herschel has revealed at least five distinct rings of relatively cool dust, places where stars can form inside Andromeda. One of the rings, a large one encircling the galactic center, may have formed during a recent collision with another galaxy, astronomers say.

Published January 7, 2011



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