“Our knowledge of stars and interstellar matter must be based primarily on the electromagnetic radiation which reaches us. Nature has thoughtfully provided us with a universe in which radiant energy of almost all wave lengths travels in straight lines over enormous distances with usually rather negligible absorption.” –Lyman Spitzer, Jr.
There’s nothing quite like looking at a galaxy, all aglow with the light from billions upon billions of stars shining at once. Some reaches our eyes, some is obscured by light-blocking dust, and all of it comes together to give a spectacular sight.
Yet many of the secrets of a galaxy like this are unable to be seen in visible light alone. If we want to know where new stars have formed, where the hottest ones are, where new ones will be forming and what lies behind the dust, we have to look in wavelengths beyond what our eyes can see. Yet our greatest space observatories can do exactly this, at both longer and shorter wavelengths, revealing a whole galaxy’s worth of secrets!
Come peer behind the curtain of Andromeda at the highest resolution ultraviolet and infrared images ever assembled on today’s Mostly Mute Monday.