In four billion years, Andromeda will collide with the Milky Way. That will be an amazing view — but until then we have to look at it from a distance. This new photo by the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory shows a beautiful view.
The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbour. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimetre in size. Herschel’s ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings.
I just can look at these space images all day long. [NASA]