The great life cycle of stars, from the moment they switch on to the point they destroy themselves, is caught in a new view of the Andromeda Galaxy.

The above picture, released to the BBC, combines the power of Europe’s Herschel and XMM-Newton space telescopes.

Herschel is sensitive to infrared light and sees the cold clouds of gas and dust where stars are forming.

Herschel and XMM combination

XMM-Newton, on the other hand, sees X-rays, a signature of the violent cosmos and the death throes of stars.

XMM-Newton Europe's orbiting X-ray telescope

Acquired in just the past few weeks, the joint observation from the two European Space Agency (ESA) telescopes has been featured on the BBC’s Stargazing Live series.

Andromeda is something of a twin to our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. It is part of the Local Group and is a mere 2.5 million light-years distant. Like the Milky Way, it is also a spiral galaxy.

Studying Andromeda is an excellent way to unravel some of the mysteries of our own stellar neighborhood; and using Herschel and XMM-Newton in combination makes for a powerful probe.

Herschel telescope

A similar Herschel and XMM combination has been made of the famous Whirlpool Galaxy

read more BBC