Grand Spiral Galaxy M81 by Hubble

Astronomers released this beautiful photograph of the grand spiral design galaxy, M81, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Although it looks like a single image, it was actually constructed by stitching together many images on computer, using three different wavelengths of light.

M81 is located about 11.6 million light-years in the constellation of Ursa Major. We’re fortunate that it’s turned at an oblique angle towards the Earth, so we can see a full view of the spiral structure. Hubble’s view of M81 is so crisp and clear that individual stars can be resolved, as well as open clusters and globular star clusters.

The older, redder stars are contained around the galaxy’s central bulge, and it has regions of star formation along its spiral arms. Astronomers suspect that its recent nearby encounter with another galaxy (M82) unleashed the period of star formation about 300 million years ago.

The image was released as part of the Americal Astronomical Society Meeting in Honolulu, which is currently going on in Hawaii.

Original Source: Hubble News Release