This infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that the Sombrero galaxy, named after its appearance in visible light to a wide-brimmed hat, is in fact two galaxies in one.
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The Sombrero Galaxy's Split Personality

The infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that the Sombrero galaxy -- named after its appearance in visible light to a wide-brimmed hat -- is in fact two galaxies in one. It is a large elliptical galaxy (blue-green) with a thin disk galaxy (partly seen in red) embedded within. Previous visible-light images led astronomers to believe the Sombrero was simply a regular flat disk galaxy.

Spitzer's infrared view highlights the stars and dust. The starlight detected at 3.5 and 4.6 microns is represented in blue-green while the dust detected at 8.0 microns appears red. This image allowed astronomers to sample the full population of stars in the galaxy, in addition to its structure.

The flat disk within the galaxy is made up of two portions. The inner disk is composed almost entirely of stars, with no dust. Beyond this is a slight gap, then an outer ring of intermingled dust and stars, seen here in red.

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. Caltech manages JPL for NASA. For more information about Spitzer, visit http://spitzer.caltech.edu/ and http://www.nasa.gov/spitzer.

Image details

ID#:
PIA15426

Date added:
2012-04-24

Mission:
Spitzer Space Telescope

Spacecraft:
Spitzer Space Telescope

Instruments:
Infrared Array Camera (IRAC)

Size:
1970 x 2400 pixels (width x height)

Rating:



Views:
11,629

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA15426.tif (14.2 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA15426.jpg (0.44 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech