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Astr112 Photography Projects, Spring 2005

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Whirlpool Galaxy, Amy de Jong

Whirlpool Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy, or M51, is a spiral galaxy. Its spiral formation is caused by an interaction with a nearby galaxy, NGC 5195. This interaction makes the gas in the galaxy disturbed and compressed in some areas, which leads to the formation of new young stars. A type Sc galaxy, M51 is about 31 million lightyears distant. It is one of the brightest galaxies in the sky and the dominant member of a small group of galaxies in the Canes Venatici constellation. This galaxy was first discovered by Charles Messier on October 13, 1773.

In the picture of M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, we see a bright center with two spirals unraveling from a bright yellow-white bulge in the center. It is classified as a type Sc galaxy because its spiral arms are loose with clumps of stars, which appear bluish-purple, and it has a small bulge. NGC 5195, the galaxy it interacts with, is also pictured at the top as a bright bulge. The linear size of M51 appears to be about 99,192 lightyears.


Right Ascension (J2000) 13 : 29.9 (h:m)
Declination (J2000) +47 : 12 (deg:m)
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds BVRC
Date observed

March 8, 2005 (C)
March 31, 2005 (BVR)