RadioOptical Composite of M51
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Radio/Optical Composite of M51

November 4, 2003
Three separate sets of observations are involved in this composite image of the spiral galaxy M51, also known as the "Whirlpool Galaxy". The optical image (depicted by green and yellow colors in the above image) highlights the younger stars, as well as the dust; the latter can be seen as dust lanes in the spiral arms of M51 itself and in obscuring the eastern (left hand) part of its companion, NGC5195. The continuum radio emission (depicted by red in the image) is partly due to thermal emission from HII regions, partly to synchrotron emission from relativistic electrons moving in magnetic fields, delineating areas of high compression (i.e. the dust lanes). The spectral-line observations of neutral atomic hydrogen (depicted by blue) gives us the distribution, as well as the kinematics, of the neutral hydrogen gas.

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