Messier 81 (M81) is a classic example of a spiral galaxy. Star-forming regions in this galaxy become evident in the infrared view. In the infrared, the spiral arm structure becomes much more powerful relative to the visibly bright galactic center, revealing denser concentrations of cold dust and gas ready to be transformed into new stars.

Visible: Stars are partly obscured by dust.

Near-infrared: Shifting to infrared light reveals the dust lanes in red.

Far-infrared: Longer infrared wavelengths now show star-forming areas in red.

CREDITS: Visible: N.A. Sharp (NOAO/AURA/NSF). Near-infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/S. Willner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). Far-infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/K. Gordon (University of Arizona) & S. Willner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics).
Default View
image of Visible M81
image of Near-infrared M81
image of Far-infrared M81