M82, The Starburst Galaxy in Ursa Major
This irregular galaxy in Ursa Major suffers from severe core distortion as a result of interaction with its nearby neighbor M81. The distance between the centers of the two interacting galaxies is a mere 130,000 light years, with the pair being about 11 million light years from Earth.
About 100 million years ago tidal forces caused by the gravitational attraction of neighboring M81 triggered an intense region of starbirth in M82, tearing off the arms of this former spiral galaxy and unleashing a frenzy of star generation within its core. The birth of supermassive, short-lived stars gave rise to intense stellar winds and the spectacular demise of these giants in the form of supernovae explosions, providing the driving force for the plumes and filaments of hydrogen gas (red feature in above image) blasting out from the central region of the galaxy. These filaments extend outward for a staggering distance of nearly 10,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. Brown obscuring dust can also be seen entrained in this high velocity flow of gas emanating from the core area.
Credit: David M. Jurasevich