Dusty waves on a starry sea: The mid-infrared view of M31

P. Barmby, M. L.N. Ashby, L. Bianchi, C. W. Engelbracht, Robert D Gehrz, K. D. Gordon, J. L. Hinz, J. P. Huchra, Roberta M Humphreys, M. A. Pahre, P. G. Pérez-González, E. F. Polomski, G. H. Rieke, D. A. Thilker, S. P. Willner, Chick E Woodward

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120 Scopus citations


Mid-infrared observations of the Andromeda galaxy, M31, obtained with the Infrared Array Camera on board the Spitzer Space Telescope are presented. The image mosaics cover areas of approximately 3.°7 × 1.°6 and include the satellite galaxies M32 and NGC 205. The appearance of M31 varies dramatically in the different mid-infrared bands, from the smooth bulge and disk of the old stellar population seen at 3.6 μm to the well-known "10 kpc ring" dominating the 8 μm image. The similarity of the 3.6 μm and optical isophotes and the nearly constant optical-mid-infrared color over the inner 400'' confirm that there is no significant extinction at optical wavelengths in M31's bulge. The nuclear colors indicate the presence of dust but not an infrared-bright active galactic nucleus. The integrated 8 μm nonstellar luminosity implies a star formation rate of 0.4 Modot; yr-1, consistent with other indicators that show M31 to be a quiescent galaxy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L45-L49
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Oct 10 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the referee for helpful suggestions. This work is based on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. Support for this work was provided by NASA through an award issued by JPL/Caltech.


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: individual (M31)
  • Galaxies: spiral
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Infrared: galaxies


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