NASA recently shared an eye-catching image of our neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).
Located about 2.5 million light-years from our Sun, Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies.
The image shared by NASA on Instagram is a four-color composite using all of WISE’s infrared detectors:
- Blue represents far-ultraviolet light.
- Green represents mid-way ultraviolet light.
- Red is near-ultraviolet light.
The galaxy’s backbone of mature stars is visible in blue, while the yellow and red rings show dust heated by newborn, massive stars.
Both Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are in a collision course. According to scientists, the collision will occur within the next 3.9 billion years. Earlier, it was suggested that the collision will happen within 4.5 billion years ago. But the data from ESA’s Gaia spacecraft offers crucial insights into how galaxies evolve and interact.