How many telescopes does it take to photograph one galaxy? Four, it seems.

This image of the Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457, is a combination of infrared, visible, ultraviolet and X-ray data collected by four different NASA telescopes: Chandra, Spitzer, Hubble and GALEX.

Each telescope's unique imaging technology provides a different layer to the overall image. Chandra, which visualizes X-rays, adds purple to the image. Spitzer captures infrared light that appears red in the image. The Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) interprets ultraviolet light and is responsible for the blue coloring, and Hubble the yellow, as it reports traces of visible light.

While NASA didn't release this image until late May, the pieces have been coming together for years. In 2006, the galaxy was imaged by Hubble and released as the largest and most detailed picture of a galaxy to that point.

This picture might be new, but in reality it's already millions of years behind.

From the Chandra website:

The Pinwheel Galaxy is in the constellation of Ursa Major (also known as the Big Dipper). It is about 70% larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy, with a diameter of about 170,000 light years, and sits at a distance of 21 million light years from Earth. This means that the light we're seeing in this image left the Pinwheel Galaxy about 21 million years ago - many millions of years before humans ever walked the Earth.

Check out the composite in full, below:

m101 spiral galaxy

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Bailey Island, Maine

    View of the Bailey Island Cribstone Bridge and the supermoon.

  • SUPERMOON over Frankfurt ,Germany.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kevin_Kain"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/508059869/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kevin_Kain">Kevin Kain</a>:<br />Big MOON over Frankensteiner Platz, Sachsenhausen-Nord, Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt, Germany

  • Supermoon Over the Haight

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Susan_Leas_Latham"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100000400611255/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Susan_Leas_Latham">Susan Leas Latham</a>:<br />Looking west from Stanyan and Page Street, San Francisco.

  • Super Moon & Sandhill Cranes

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/imtruthmonger"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/955553-tiny.png?20101230100445" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/imtruthmonger">imtruthmonger</a>:<br />Sandhill cranes traverse the face of the super moon. San Luis Valley, Colorado

  • moon over Arroyo Hondo Mesa, New Mexico

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Ron_Hagg"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Ron_Hagg">Ron Hagg</a>:<br />Great to be here

  • A "supermoon" is seen above the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, May 6, 2012. A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon (or a new moon) with the closest approach the moon makes to the Earth. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

  • Super Moon Lake Havasu City

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Cory_Michael_Hall"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1757992258/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Cory_Michael_Hall">Cory Michael Hall</a>:<br />Super Moon 2012 Lake Havasu City

  • The full moon rises behind the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, south east of Athens, Greece, while tourists watch, on Saturday, May 5, 2012. Saturday's event is a "supermoon," the closest and therefore the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

  • Moon Appears Bigger And Brighter, As Its Closer To Earth Than Normal

    PALM SPRINGS, CA - MAY 5: A perigee moon, or supermoon, rises behind wind turbines on May 5, 2012 near Palm Springs, California. The moon appears especially big and bright during this once-a-year cosmic event as the full moon is at its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. The perigee side of its orbit is about 31,000 miles closer than the opposite, or apogee, side. The bright light of the full moon also hides all but the brightest meteors of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, the remnant debris trail of Halley's Comet. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

  • Big Moon Budapest

    Budapest Moon

  • A supermoon lights up Waikiki and Diamond Head Saturday, May 5, 2012, in Honolulu. A "supermoon" event happens when the moon is closest to the earth therefore the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

  • Super Moon

    May 4, 2012 over Palmer Alaska

  • Dublin City, Ireland

    Supermoon over Marino, three miles north of Dublin City, Ireland. The small light is the top of the Spire monument on Dublin's O'Connell Street - in the centre of the city!

  • A fisherman casts a line from a jetty as the "supermoon" appears over the Atlantic Ocean, Saturday, May 5, 2012, near Bal Harbour, Fla. The moon was the closest it will get to the Earth this year _ and appeared 14 percent larger because of that. At its peak it was about 221,802 miles from Earth. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • The "supermoon" appears behind a steeple with crosses of an Orthodox church in the town of Novogrudok, 150 km (93 miles) west of Minsk, Belarus, late Saturday, May 5, 2012. The moon was the closest it will get to the Earth this year _ and appeared 14 percent larger because of that. At its peak it was about 221,802 miles from Earth. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Moon over Pawtucket

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/RobertinBeirut"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/RobertinBeirut">RobertinBeirut</a>:<br />This was taken from Central Falls, over the downtown area of Pawtucket, RI.

  • Super Moon in Chicagoland

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Druuna"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/1336379-2-tiny.png?20110427170134" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Druuna">Druuna</a>:<br />Super Moon May 5th, 2012 in Chicagoland

  • Hartsgrove, Ohio

  • Super moon Ft Smith AR

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Lodza"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1284260836/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Lodza">Lodza</a>:<br />

  • Livermore, Maine

    Taken at moonrise.

  • The full moon rises behind Statue of Liberty replica atop of a hotel in Kosovo's capital Pristina on Saturday, May 5, 2012. On Saturday, the moon will be a "supermoon" or perigee moon as the moon is at it's closest approach to the earth. ( AP Photo / Visar Kryeziu )

  • Livermore, Maine

    Taken at moonrise.

  • Westhaven Supermoon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rob_Youngblood"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1832788374/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rob_Youngblood">Rob Youngblood</a>:<br />SuperMoon over Franklin, Tennessee

  • The full moon rises in the clouds behind statues of angels fixed at the St. Isaak's Cathedral in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, May 5, 2012. Saturday's event is a "supermoon," the closest and therefore the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

  • Supermoon 2012

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/JanetBS"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3189175.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/JanetBS">JanetBS</a>:<br />Supermoon over Northern VA breaking through the clouds.

  • Full Perigee Moon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Joel_Caplan"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/883935213/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Joel_Caplan">Joel Caplan</a>:<br />From Savannah GA about 10:45 EDT

  • The "supermoon" appears over the landmark Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai, India, Saturday, May 5, 2012. The moon was the closest it will get to the Earth this year _ and appeared 14 percent larger because of that. At its peak it was about 221,802 miles from Earth. (AP Photo/ Rajanish Kakade)

  • My #SuperMoon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Thalin_Lea"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/yahoo_profile_img/2244009.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Thalin_Lea">Thalin Lea</a>:<br />

  • Desert Moon, Yuma, Arizona

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jennahassan"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/aol_profile_img/3189206.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jennahassan">jennahassan</a>:<br />And the desert whispered to the moon, "bring back the ocean."

  • The moon rises Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville Fla., on Saturday, May 5, 2012. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)

  • Marino, Ireland

    Simone Rapple

  • Brookline, MA

    James Spear

  • Maple leaves are silhouetted by the "supermoon" in Spring Lake Township, Mich., Sunday, May 6, 2012. The moon was the closest it will get to the Earth this year _ and appeared 14 percent larger because of that. At its peak it was about 221,802 miles from Earth. (AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Cory Morse) ALL LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL TV INTERNET OUT

  • Chattanooga, TN

    Phyllis Scott

  • Charleston, S.C.

    Via Donna W.

  • The 'Supermoon" rises over the Angel's Gate lighthouse in San Pedro, Calif. Saturday night. The moon will come within about 221,802 miles (357,000 kilometers) from Earth. That's about 15,300 miles (24,600 kilometers) closer than average. (AP Photo/Chuck Bennett, Daily Breeze)

  • Leesburg, VA

    Leah Kosin <a href="http://leesburg.patch.com/" target="_hplink">Leesburg Patch</a>

  • Omaha, NE

    Via Pat.

  • Supermoon over Calais, Vermont

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/vtphotoguy"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/320695-tiny.png?20100701232123" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/vtphotoguy">vtphotoguy</a>:<br />Moonrise over the peaks of Plainfield, from nearby Calais, Vermont. Tim Seaver/Vermontphoto

  • Uppsala, Sweden

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bjorn47"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/702667588/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Bjorn47">Bjorn47</a>:<br />Supermoon as seen from Uppsala, Sweden a few hours ago.

  • The "supermoon" appears over Vancouver, British Columbia Saturday May 5, 2012. The moon was the closest it will get to the Earth this year _ and appeared 14 percent larger because of that. At its peak it was about 221,802 miles from Earth. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

  • Supermoon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kari_Koji"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100001947155004/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kari_Koji">Kari Koji</a>:<br />Supermoon in Greeley, Colorado! Amazing

  • Cottonwood ARIZONA

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Richard_G_Bolt_Iii"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1253949099/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Richard_G_Bolt_Iii">Richard G Bolt Iii</a>:<br />Supermoon 2012

  • #supermoon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Ahura_Mazda"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/yahoo_profile_img/1143523.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Ahura_Mazda">Ahura Mazda</a>:<br />

  • Montana Big Sky Country

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/firewmn"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/258322-2-tiny.png?20100131224803" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/firewmn">firewmn</a>:<br />Supermoon in the Big Sky...

  • Supermoon over Anglin's Fishing Pier

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Edward_Oest"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100001892959705/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Edward_Oest">Edward Oest</a>:<br />Supermoon over Anglin's Fishing Pier, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. E Oest

  • from Andover. MA

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Teejaye46"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/2532006-tiny.png?20120409193947" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Teejaye46">Teejaye46</a>:<br />

  • Super Moon

    The moon rises over the Renkert Building, Saturday, May 5, 2012 in Canton, Ohio. The biggest and brightest full moon of the year arrives Saturday night as our celestial neighbor passes closer to Earth than usual. (AP Photo/The Repository, Scott Heckel) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • supermoon from tampa florida

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/May_Lafranchi"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1015404955/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/May_Lafranchi">May Lafranchi</a>:<br />