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8 images of galaxies far, far away

By: Katherine Butler on March 11, 2012, 7:13 p.m.
Spiral galaxy M106

Photo: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of Maryland/A.S. Wilson et al.; Optical: Palomar Observatory. DSS; IR:NASA/JPL-Caltech; VLA: NRAO/AUI/NSF

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Anomalous arms: Spiral galaxy M106

This image of Spiral Galaxy M106, which has its own Facebook page, is a composite of the works of several instruments, including the Spitzer Space Telescope, Chandra, and the Very Large Array. NASA suggests that spiral galaxies get their shapes when “a close gravitational interaction with a neighboring galaxy created waves of high mass and condensed gas which continue to orbit the galaxy center.” When a galaxy is extra large, its gravity can distort nearby galaxies. Some spiral galaxies are believed to have a bar across their center, as in the case of our own Milky Way.