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Have a Cigar! New Observations of Messier 82


ESA’s space-borne X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has carried out an exclusive, 50-plus-hour observation of the starburst galaxy Messier 82, for the ‘100 Hours of Astronomy’ cornerstone project for the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

This first image shows bright knots in the plane of the galaxy, indicating a region of intense star formation, and emerging plumes of supergalactic winds glowing in X-rays. 

XMM-Newton has been studying the sky in X-ray, optical and ultraviolet wavelengths simultaneously, since its launch in December 1999.  


Messier 82 has several names including: M82, the Cigar Galaxy and NGC 3034. Located in the constellation Ursa Major at a distance of about 12 million light-years, it is the nearest and one of the most active starburst galaxies, meaning it shows an exceptionally high rate of star formation.

M82 is interacting gravitationally with its neighbour, the spiral galaxy Messier 81, which is probably the cause for the violent starburst activity in the region around its center.

This second image of Messier 82, compiled from observations in the optical and infrared, shows the very bright starry disc of the galaxy with striking dust lanes. 

Source: ESA. More images, including a downloadable poster, are here. 100 Hours of Astronomy ended on Sunday, but the website still has loads of fun information. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebration is, of course, ongoing!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Layman April 13, 2009, 5:01 PM

    @ Anaconda
    Dark Matter- Dark Energy-
    Yes I do have many questions about these two unknowns- 94 % of everything?
    Dark Energy- Gravity?
    Dark Matter- Everything that is not a star.?

    I hope that in the near future we will learn more about these forces of the universe and that we will have some reasonable answers. From everything that I have read- who knows!
    Sometimes I too think that the mathematicians reach- but this is what science is all about- formulate an idea- test it-prove it or disprove it- there are so few absolutes and so much to learn.

  • Layman April 13, 2009, 5:58 PM

    On the other hand I believe in atoms- I cannot see them, I cannot touch them, but the preponderance of the evidence indicates that they are the building blocks of everything in the universe. When and if the evidence explains what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are – then I will probably accept them as a reasonable fact until otherwise proven wrong!
    Now I defer to the scientists and other learned people of this site of whom I have the highest regard.

  • ND April 13, 2009, 9:42 PM

    Anaconda: “I do the best I can to provide linked authority for my positions, however, only one link is allowed per comment.”

    And I can show tons of authority showing that the Sun is nuclear powered thanks to gravity. In fact the vast majority of the authority on the subject of astronomy is behind this model. And yet you would not accept this authority if I do list them. You will, given my experience with you, start spouting rhetoric about “modern” astronomy and so on. You’re cherry picking your evidence. Is there enough current going into the Sun to power the energy output we observe today? Have you read up on the latest observational data regarding Sun’s neutrino output? Have you read any of the critiques of EU/PC by those with authority to do so? Would you understand it? Do you understand what the CIT link says?

    Regarding the conspiracy theories, I have no idea who you are and how you’re related if at all to the EU/PC sites. There is no way for me to know. But your zealotry on the subject matches those of the site and others who debate in blogs. But then again, such subjects probably (and I think do) attract certain self-absorbed persona. So I have nothing else to say. Although, that “a role for you” page on the thunderbolts.info site is mighty suspicious in trying to play a media savy game.

    As for people asking for specifics I was covering all the months I’ve seen you debate. This includes the specifc questions that Tom Marking and DrFlimmer have asked you, along with others.

    As for the electric sun hypothesis, I honestly have not though too much about it. I’ve let others who can do the math deal with itl.

  • Excalibur April 14, 2009, 4:04 AM


    You are obfuscating, as usual, but i reiterate the statements.

    1. The Sun is claimed by EU to be powered by galactic scale Birkeland currents, in one EU version in an effect called a z-pinch. Correct?
    2. Those currents must arrive at the Sun (and they must also be removed at another end or there will be a charge accumulation). Currents dont like moving against magnetic fields, such as the Sun’s, and will be directed towards the polar regions. Correct ?
    3. Regardless of how those currents are transported, except possibly if they are teleported by magic, there would be a flow from northern to southern solar pole, or in the other direction. The current may not exactly follow a straight line, but from the Earths vantage point it will be pretty much like if it was a single wire connection. Correct ?
    4. Somehow this enormous current that constantly flows (powering the Sun no less) escapes causing a detectable magnetic field that in a simple model can be as large as 100 Tesla at Earths location. Detectability should be already at some 0.001 Tesla. How ?

    How do you power the Sun with electric currents, without causing a huge magnetic field, leading that current to and from the Sun? The actual energy conversion can be anything you prefer, even a z-pinch if you so like.

    Claiming ‘drift-currents’ wont cut it, because when those drift-currents gets close to the Sun, they will start to follow the Sun’s magnetic field lines, and will be directed towards the polar regions, just as i describe above.

    So what is it going to be Anaconda? Are you going to try to explain what i asked for, or are you going to divert into some new blind alley track ?

  • Anaconda April 14, 2009, 11:30 AM

    @ Jon Hanford:

    There isn’t a connection.

    Excalibur put out his misleading sound bite about compasses…solrey attempted to point out Excalibur’s soundbite was misleading, and I followed up on that.

    It certainly seems that Excalibur is pressing to maintain the validity of that sound bite in the face of multiple explanations why he is misreprenting a hypothesis he doesn’t even believe in.

    @ Layman:

    In fact, you do see atoms and touch atoms all the time, not as single atoms, of course, but as masses of atoms. Want to touch and see a smaller mass of atoms? Then put a drop of oil on a pan of water and see the drop spread out to a film on top of the water, some oils will even spread out close to just a few molecules thick on the water and put your finger on the film and then rub your fingers.

    You didn’t mention the “dark flow”. Is that so questionable you didn’t even want to grace it with a comment?

    You are most right, the pure mathematicians have taken over astronomy (that has been true for a long time) and their tendency is to give credence to their theoretical calculations as opposed to saying: “The gravity “only” model doesn’t work. Time to try an alternative hypothesis that doesn’t require “dark” matter, “dark” energy, or, now, “dark flow”.

    @ ND:

    I gave you a second bite at the apple by providing the link I already linked to. But you failed to address that specific link, again. Your whining about specifics rings very hollow when I give you a specific and you fail to address it.

    I’ve responded will numerous links to authority (your comment is geared to people who might stray across this discussion), the Bad Astronomy debates were long and loaded with supporting authority that I linked, but you and drflimmer and others ignored the authority and kept going on about there being no ‘charge seperation’ in space in spite of the linked authorities I provided.

    That has been the traditional opening objection by “modern” astronomy, so it didn’t surprise me you and your cohorts would attempt that gambit.

    But you guys were ultimately blown out of the water with that one, since NASA has been teaching “electric currents from space” to gradeschoolers, for the last 8 years, now.

    You guys at Bad Astronomy, but for the exception of Marking, didn’t know what gradeschoolers know — that should make you guys feel informed or you were being disingenuous, take your pick.

    @ Excalibur:

    Excalibur states: “You are obfuscating, as usual, but I reiterate the statements. The Sun is claimed by EU to be powered by galactic scale Birkeland currents, in one EU version in an effect called a z-pinch. Correct?


    This is the third time I have corrected you, plus the correction you received from solrey. (I can only conclude that you are hoping that some stray readers [much like ND] will see your false mistatement and leave it at that.)

    Apparently, you refused to read the link I provided or failed to comprehend it

    I will link it for readers, again.


    “…backstreaming halo [of] electrons…”

    This does note a electron drift towards the Sun, and guess where they tend to concentrate? That’s right at the poles of the Sun.

    “The figure illustrates a newly recognized phenomenon in the ACE SWEPAM suprathermal electron data – depletions of halo electrons centered on and roughly symmetric about 90° pitch angle (PA) relative to the heliospheric magnetic field.”

    “..[backstreaming] halo electrons centered on and symmetric about the direction perpendicular to the magnetic field.”

    The magnetic field runs out from the Sun’s equator, so “perpendicular” is above the Sun’s axis, at the poles.

    Sorry, your whole rendition of the ‘Electric Sun’ hypothesis is false.

    It’s pathetic you would carry on this way after having your error exposed.

    Excalibur, you have been caught distorting the ES hypothesis in order to discredit it.

    And, no, I’m not going to spoon feed you. If you are interested, you can look up the ES hypothesis yourself and study it.

    Perhaps, if you do, then you will know how easy it was to detect and point out your strawman argument for what it was: An intentional distortion.

    Your credibility is zilch in these discussions.

  • Jon Hanford April 14, 2009, 1:24 PM

    @ Anaconda, you state your links & posts about this article on M 82 have “no connection” to each other. This is exactly my point. You may as well post your opinions on gynecology sites or Hollywood fashion sites if you intend to continue to make posts to these UT threads that have NO connection to the featured article. What’s your point. You’re off-topic, incomprehensible rants do nothing to push forward your ill-conceived ‘ideas’ on how the universe works.

  • Hon. Salacious B. Crumb April 14, 2009, 9:16 PM

    Anaconda said;
    “Your credibility is zilch in these discussions.”

    Calling the kettle black methinks. The also so applies to you… the grand illusionist who sees science as a tool to profess his faith in utter balderdash. A buffoon with a magic wand who has no knowledge of the world nor how it works.

  • Excalibur April 15, 2009, 1:42 AM

    “Excalibur, you have been caught distorting the ES hypothesis in order to discredit it”

    Anaconda, you have been caught in the act of distorting established science in order to discredit it

    Anaconda, you are a very dishonest man…

  • ND April 15, 2009, 11:02 AM


    So is this caltech paper the definitive proof that there are birkeland currents feeding and powering the sun? You’re not claiming that and neither is that paper, so what’s your point?