Based on a computer simulation, this visualization explores the disk, bulge, and spiral arms of a spiral galaxy.
This scientific visualization travels through a spiral galaxy approximately the same size as our Milky Way Galaxy. The virtual camera travels across the disk toward the galactic center, drops down below the central bulge, and exits the galaxy past the spiral arms on the far side. Along the way, the sequence showcases the bright, point-like stars in the foreground as well as the hazy, accumulated light of the unresolved stars in the background. The dark, dense dust clouds appear silhouetted against the distant starlight. Bright pink emision nebulae reveal where stars are forming, while the blue reflection nebulae reflect the light from young, massive stars and star clusters.
The visualization is based on a computer simulation designed to form a single, large spiral galaxy. The simulation includes the relevant gravity, gas dynamics, and radiative physics to follow the collapse from large, amorphous clouds to a pancake-shaped disk of stars, gas, and dust. Importantly, the simulation follows the star-formation process in detail, including the significant feedback processes that greatly modify the gas from which the stars are born.