The galaxy, a spiral beauty called Messier 94, is located about 17 million light-years away. In this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, infrared light is represented in different colors, with blue having the shortest wavelengths and red, the longest.
Starburst rings like this can often be triggered by gravitational encounters with other galaxies but, in this case, may have instead been caused by the galaxy's oval shape. Gas in the ring is being converted into hot, young stars, which then warm the dust, causing it to glow with infrared light.
The outer, faint blue ring around the galaxy might be an optical illusion. Astronomers think that two separate spiral arms appear as a single unbroken ring when viewed from our position in space.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit http://spitzer.caltech.edu and http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer .
Media ContactWhitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.