Fireworks from Messier 106


Not only are many Americans celebrating Independence Day with fireworks, but also Messier 106 is igniting its patriarchic spirit.  Shock waves previously detected from the galaxy’s center, which is about 23 million light years away, seem to have triggered a high energy reaction. Evidence gathered from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Herschel Space Observatory prove there are bands of super-hot gases shooting from M106.  It is estimated nearly two-thirds of the galaxy’s supply of gas has already been ejected into deep space.

Though these bands of hot gas create a beautiful “firework” for us on earth, in reality they are depleting the M106’s total supply of star- formation material…Gas!  This implies that in the future, the galaxy with transform into a host of old, dying red stars.  The appearance of the M106 will also change from a spiral galaxy to a lenticular galaxy, which is shaped like a flat plate with no spiral arms.

As of right now, we can enjoy this beautiful moment in the history of M106! Happy 4th of July to my American readers!

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– Julia

Source(s): Astronomy Magazine, Universe Today