NOAO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NOAO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Optical photograph of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51, NGC 5194) & its small companion NGC 5195 (top). Located 20 million light years away, M51 is a beautiful spiral galaxy which we are viewing face on. With a diameter of 65,000 light years and a mass of 50,000 million Suns, it is smaller and less massive than our own Milky Way galaxy, but it is four times as bright. M51 and its companion are undergoing a gravitational interaction and are linked by a tenuous bridge of gas and dust.
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