The NASA posting of the M51, also called “Whirlpool Galaxy”, captivates the Internet. It is 31 million light years from Earth.
In its 30 years of service, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured millions of photos of fascinating events. It has some of the most amazing views of the universe captured and spoiled the eyes of space enthusiasts. The latest picture of the shows M51 – also called “Whirlpool Galaxy”. Why it bears this name is pretty much self-explanatory at first glance.
The Spiral Galaxy’s graceful, sinuous arms appear like a grand spiral stairway slicing through the space leads. They are actually long lanes of stars and gas laced with dust. Such prominent arms are a hallmark of so-called grand design spiral galaxies. In the Whirlpool galaxy, these arms serve an important purpose: they are star-forming factories, compressing hydrogen gas and creating clusters of new stars. In Hubble’s arresting image of M51, the red represents both infrared light and hydrogen in vast star-forming regions. The blue color can be attributed to hot, young stars, while the yellow color is from older stars. In the center of Galaxy hides a supermassive black hole.
Now, on Twitter, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shared a magnificent image of the galaxy: “Circle and circle we go… Be amazed by the swaying arms of the Whirlpool galaxy, the pinkish star-forming regions and the bright blue strands of carry away star clusters,” NASA wrote in the caption.
First discovered in 1773
The galaxy was discovered by French astronomer Charles Messier on October 13, 1773 and included in his catalog of diffuse objects as number 51. In 1845 the Irish astronomer William Parsons (Lord Rosse) was the first to recognize the spiral structure of the object with his giant telescope “Leviathan”.
M51 is located 31 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Canis Hounds. It has an apparent magnitude of 8.4 and is easiest to spot with a small telescope in May. The beautiful frontal view of the Whirlpool Galaxy and its proximity to Earth allow astronomers to study the structure and star-forming processes of a classic spiral galaxy. An observation in the city is as good as impossible. It is best to look for a location without light pollution. If the aperture of the telescope is smaller than 10 centimetres, only an elongated spot can be seen. The spiral arms can only be observed at openings of 20 cm and more.