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The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) from Hubble Space Telescope

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Follow the handle of the Big Dipper away from the dipper's bowl, until you get to the handle's last bright star. Then, just slide your telescope a little south and west and you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier's famous catalog. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (left), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici. Though M51 looks faint and fuzzy in small, earthbound telescopes, this sharpest ever picture of M51 was taken in January 2005 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on board the Hubble Space Telescope.
Text from APOD.

This color image is based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The data were retrieved from the Hubble Legacy Archive.

Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Image processing: Davide De Martin.

If interested in using the image, please read my policy or e-mail me with your request.

For the original processing by ESA/Hubble-STScI teams see or

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All images presented in this website are copyrighted Davide De Martin (2005-2014) otherwise noted. Reproduction or distribution of these images is not permitted without written consent. See also my policy of the use of images for further details or email me. Comments are welcome.
The astronomical images presented in this site were created with the help of the ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator.