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The Whirlpool galaxy

The Whirlpool galaxy

R854/0045

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Credit

JASON WARE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JASON WARE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Whirlpool galaxy. Optical image of the Whirlpool galaxy (M51, NGC 5194) and its companion NGC 5195 (top). North is at top. These interacting galaxies lie about 20 million light years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. M51 has a diameter of around 65,000 light years and a mass of about 50,000 million solar masses, about half the values of our own Milky Way. This image shows the variation in star colours in the galaxies. The nuclei contain mainly older, yellower stars, while the spiral arms have more hot young blue stars. The galaxies are linked by a thin bridge of gas and dust which NGC 5195 has pulled from the larger galaxy by gravitational attraction.

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