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M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy

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About the image: This is a true colour image of M51, also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, totalling 7.5 hours of integration. Whirlpool Galaxy: The Whirlpool galaxy lies at a distance of 31 million light years from the earth and is an interacting grand design spiral galaxy. It was discovered in 1773 by Charles Messier and added to his catalogue of discoveries as M51. I can be seen with binoculars under dark sky conditions

The galaxy is estimated to be 76,000 light years in diameter, making it just over half the size of the Milky Way. Within the spiral arms are many red nebulous regions of Hydrogen gas and are likely to be active star forming regions.

Annotated image version: (Click image to open full size)

Where in the sky is it?

The Whirlpool galaxy can be found next to the 'handle' of the constellation Ursa Major.. (Click image to open full size)


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