Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 31, 1995
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The X-ray Sources of M31

Explanation: Just like our own Milky Way Galaxy, the nearest major galaxy M31 has many star systems spewing high energy radiation. High energy X-radiation is visible to certain satellites in Earth orbit such as ROSAT - which took the above picture. The X-ray sources in M31 occur in globular clusters, the spiral arms, and near the galaxy's center. Probably most of these sources are accretion disk binary star systems. M31 has more X-ray sources near its center than our Galaxy, and the reason for this is currently unknown.

Tomorrow's picture: Shuttle Engine Blast

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
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