Astronomy Picture of the Day

M106 in Canes Venatici

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M106 in Canes Venatici


Close to the Great Bear
(Ursa Major) and
surrounded by the stars
of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici), this celestial nebula was
in 1781 by the
French astronomer
Pierre Mechain.

Later, it was added to the catalog of his friend and colleague
Charles Messier as

Modern deep telescopic views reveal it to be an
island universe --
a spiral galaxy around 30 thousand light-years across located
only about 21 million light-years beyond the stars of the Milky Way.

Youthful blue star clusters and reddish stellar nurseries
trace the striking spiral arms of M106.

Seen so clearly in
beautiful image
, the galaxy's bright
core is also visible
the spectrum
from radio to x-rays,
making M106 a nearby example of the
Seyfert class of
active galaxies.

The bright core of a Seyfert galaxy is believed to be powered
by matter falling into a massive

central black hole.

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