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An Infrared View of the M81 Galaxy

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Sept. 6 2019






Located in the northern constellation of Ursa Major, which also includes the Big Dipper, nearby galaxy Messier 81 is easily visible through binoculars or a small telescope. M81 is located at a distance of 12 million light-years.

M81 was one of the first publicly released datasets soon after the launch of the Spitzer Space Telescope in August 2003. On the occasion of Spitzer’s 16th anniversary this new image revisits this iconic object with extended observations and improved processing.

This Spitzer infrared image is a composite mosaic combining data from the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) at wavelengths of 3.6/4.5 microns (blue/cyan) and 8 microns (green) with data from the Multiband Imaging Photometer (MIPS) at 24 microns (red).

The 3.6-micron near-infrared data (blue) traces the distribution of stars, although the Spitzer image is virtually unaffected by obscuring dust and reveals a very smooth stellar mass distribution, with the spiral arms relatively subdued.




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