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M82: A Starburst Galaxy
Half size lp m82 a starburst galaxy 2x
(3.56 MB)

Photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

This mosaic image from the Hubble Space Telescope is the sharpest wide-angle view ever obtained of M82. The text explains the mystery associated with this odd-looking galaxy.

Facts of interest about the image

The image shows a bright blue disk, webs of shredded clouds, and fiery-looking plumes of glowing hydrogen blasting out of its central regions.

Classroom activity

Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity that focuses on the image and text.


This Hubble Space Telescope image shows M82, an edge-on galaxy that is undergoing a frenzy of star formation. The text explains the possible causes of the galaxy’s unusual appearance and star birth activity. An inquiry-based classroom activity accompanies the lithograph.

10-12, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Teachers can use this lithograph as:

An engagement tool in an inquiry-based lesson. Have students study the M82 image on the lithograph. Ask them to write down any questions they have about the image. The students’ questions can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Ask students to find the answers to their questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

  • Have students exchange their written questions with those of their classmates. Ask the students to find the answers to those questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or by reviewing the related material listed below.

  • Ask each student to read their questions while you or a student records them on the blackboard or on a transparency on an overhead projector. Ask students to raise their hands if they had written down the same or a similar question. Count the number of hands raised, and record this number next to the question. Once all the questions have been added to the list, ask students to search for the answers to their questions in the information on the back of the lithograph. When they complete that task, ask them to decide if each of their questions was answered completely, partially, or not answered at all. Go through the original list and place an "A" in front of the questions that were answered completely, a "P" for those partially answered, and an "N" for those not answered at all. Determine if the most commonly asked questions were also answered completely. Encourage students to do further research to find answers to the unanswered questions.

A content reading tool. Have students read the back of the lithograph and write a quiz for the class.

An example of starburst galaxies. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity called "In Search of … Starburst Galaxies" that is included with the PDF lithograph.

Related materials

HubbleSite press release: "Happy Sweet Sixteen, Hubble Telescope!"

HubbleSite press release: "Hubble Spies Huge Clusters of Stars Formed by Ancient Encounter"

Amazing Space resources by topic: Galaxies