The Swirl Galaxy is a classic spiral galaxy. Only 23 million light years away and with a total width of 65 thousand light years, the M51 also known as NGC 5194.
It is one of the brightest and most picturesque galaxies in the sky. The smaller galaxy that appears below and to the left is far behind the M 51, as can be deduced by the dust of an arm in the foreground spiral, which is blocking the light of this smaller galaxy.
The Whirlpool, in the photograph, is visible with binoculars in the constellation of Canes Venatici ("Hunter Dog"). M51 is a spiral galaxy of the Sc type and is the dominant member of an entire group of galaxies. Astronomers speculate that the spiral structure of the M51 is primarily due to its gravitational interaction with the minor galaxy.
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