NRAO / AUI / NSF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NRAO / AUI / NSF / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Whirlpool galaxy (M51), optical and radio image. This spiral galaxy is one of the brightest galaxies in the sky. The smaller galaxy, seen as a bright region at the end of one of the arms (upper centre), is NGC 5195. It is thought to have collided with the Whirlpool galaxy around 500 million years ago and is now bound by its gravitational pull. This interaction is probably responsible for the Whirlpool's classic spiral structure. These galaxies lie about 23 million light years from Earth, in the constellation Canes Venatici. Image produced using data from the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) and the Very Large Array (VLA) telescope.
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