Visitors to the University of Michigan Dearborn Observatory who enter through the atrium of the Science Learning and Research Center (SLRC) will encounter our floor mosaic of the Cigar Galaxy (M82).
The 12-foot circular mosaic depicts massive jets of hot hydrogen gas (pink regions) being expelled from M82 as a result of an explosive burst of star formation in the center of the galaxy. These jets, extending out tens of thousands of light years into intergalactic space perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy, are traveling at more than 1.5 million kilometers per hour. The stars of the galaxy trace out the cigar shaped galactic disk (white and blue regions), and seem unperturbed by the violence in the galactic center.
The mosaic has been rendered in linoleum and is modeled on a high-resolution digital image of M82 created by a team of scientists led by Dr. Mark Westmoquette of the University College London. The photo (see below) was prepared using observations obtained with Hubble Space Telescope and the 3.5-meter WIYN telescope in Arizona.
The mosaic was created using computer software to trace the image of M82 and to establish contours bounding isochromatic regions whose hues were chosen by matching as closely as possible, the manufacturer's palette to the colors revealed by the galaxy. Computer-controlled cutting machines then shaped the inlay pieces following the design template.
Permission to use the image of M82 as the model for this mosaic has been graciously provided by Dr. Westmoquette.
This art work is the result of the generous support of Natural Sciences' faculty, staff and alumni.