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Ultraviolet Extensions
04.16.08
 
ultraviolet image of Southern Pinwheel galaxy

This ultraviolet image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer shows the Southern Pinwheel galaxy, also know as Messier 83 or M83. It is located 15 million light-years away in the southern constellation Hydra.

Ultraviolet light traces young populations of stars; in this image, young stars can be seen way beyond the main spiral disk of M83 up to 140,000 light-years from its center. Could life exist around one of these far-flung stars? Scientists say it's unlikely because the outlying regions of a galaxy are lacking in the metals required for planets to form.

The image was taken at scheduled intervals between March 15 and May 20, 2007. It is one of the longest-exposure, or deepest, images ever taken of a nearby galaxy in ultraviolet light. Near-ultraviolet light (or longer-wavelength ultraviolet light) is colored yellow, and far-ultraviolet light is blue.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MPIA

High-resolution TIFF (23Mb)