Astronomy Picture of the Day

M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy in Dust and Stars

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#84716 by @ 20.02.2006 00:00 - nach oben -
M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy in Dust and Stars

The Whirlpool Galaxy is a classic spiral galaxy.

At only 30 million
light years distant and fully 60
thousand light years across,
M51, also known as

NGC 5194,
is one of the brightest and most
picturesque galaxies on the sky.

The above
is a digital combination of a ground-based image from the
0.9-meter telescope at
Kitt Peak National Observatory
and a space-based image from the
Hubble Space Telescope
highlighting sharp features normally too red to be seen.

Anyone with a good pair of
binoculars, however, can see this
Whirlpool toward the constellation of Canes Venatici.

M51 is a
spiral galaxy of type Sc
and is the dominant member of a
whole group of galaxies.

Astronomers speculate that M51's
spiral structure is primarily due to its
gravitational interaction with a
smaller galaxy
just off the top of this digitally sharpened image.

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