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M81 Animations
Click for low-resolution animation
Tour of M81
Quicktime MPEG
This image of the mammoth spiral galaxy M81, located about 12 million light years away, contains data from four different NASA satellites. First we see infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, followed by optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope. The Galex Satellite shows us what M81 looks like in ultraviolet emission. And finally, x-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory reveals what is going on at higher energies. At the center of M81, there is a supermassive black hole that is about 70 million times more massive than the sun. A new study involving Chandra and other telescopes helps astronomers better understand how this black hole is growing.
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(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley & CfA/A.Zezas; Optical: NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA)

Click for low-resolution animation
Multi-wavelength Images of M81
Quicktime MPEG
Beginning with optical light, we then see how M81 looks through ultraviolet and infrared eyes before seeing Chandra’s X-ray image. In the center of M81 is a black hole that is about 70 million times more massive than the Sun, and generates energy and radiation as it pulls gas in the central region of the galaxy inwards at high speed. When astronomers compared these data with models for much smaller-scale black holes, they found a similar distribution of optical, radio, and X-ray light. This implies that black holes - either big or little - devour material in the same way.
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(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Wisconsin/D.Pooley & CfA/A.Zezas; Optical: NASA/ESA/CfA/A.Zezas; UV: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA/J.Huchra et al.; IR: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CfA)



Return to M81 (June 18, 2008)