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M82, Starburst Galaxy
Rebekah Kreischer

Starburst Galaxy

A Starburst Galaxy is a galaxy that is forming stars at an amazing rate. The more active galaxies can produce thousands of stars each year. The formation of such galaxies is rumored to begin when one galaxy "makes a close encounter with another galaxy" (Cain 2009). Classified as supernovae, the stars are short lived and burst, giving off shockwaves into the galaxy. The supernovae explosions usually occur every twenty to thirty years. These shockwaves then create a chain reaction causing other stars to burst and continue this process of "starbursts". Astronomers say that starburst galaxies are uncommon today and the ones that exist were formed in the early universe. Of the thousands that have been discovered, the best known starburst galaxy is M82.

The image above is of the starburst galaxy M82 which is around 23,000 light years in linear size. This particular galaxy is, according to NASA, 12-million light years away, and was most likely formed from its interaction with galaxy M81. The new stars being formed in M82 are from the continued interaction with M81. The faint light on the edges of the galaxy are from older stars that are dying out while the inner part of the galaxy contains newer stars that are being formed. Notice, however, in the middle of the galaxy there is one star that is brighter than the others. This new object is a popular topic of conversation among astronomers today. The rumor is that this is a starburst formed in May 2009 and that it, unlike stars in strburst galaxies, appeared rapidly and shows no sign of dying anytime soon. NASA announced in April 2010 that this bright spot and a similar one inside the galaxy are emitting X-rays and are actually intermediate-mass black holes, or "survivor black holes".

References:

Heward, Anita. "Mystery Object in Starburst Galaxy M82 Possible Micro-Quasar." Science Daily. 2010 Aril 12. Accessed 28 April 2011. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100413202858.htm>

Cane, Fraser. "Starburst Galaxy." www.universetoday.com. Web. 2009 May 14. Accessed 28 April 2011.<http://www.universetoday.com/30872/starburst-galaxy/>

Anderson, Janet and Megan Watzke. "Starburst Galaxy M82." NASA.2010 April 29. Accessed 28 April. 2011. <http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/multimedia/photo10-038.html>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 09:55:54
Declination (J2000) +69:40:57
Filters used C (Clear)
Exposure time per filter C (150s x 8)
Date observed April 27,2011 UT

 

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