M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy

Click on image for larger version.

20 RC image
A spiral galaxy very similar to our own Milky Way, seen face-on. There are a couple of hundred billion stars here. The dark splotches are dust clouds, and the tiny pink spots are star forming regions, where new stars (and probably solar systems) are born.

The bright object to the left is another galaxy, a small barred spiral captured by M51. Eventually, they will merge, making a single large galaxy (probably very distorted from its present state). Both galaxies are about 35 million lightyears away.

Go to the NOAO image gallery entry for M51 for more information on these galaxies.


20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.4
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

L R G B color production was used to create this image.

Luminance = 90 minutes binned 1x1
Red = 20 minutes binned 2x2
Green = 20 minutes binned 2x2
Blue = 20 minutes binned 2x2

  • Two iterations of L-R deconvolution (sharpening) algorithm using CCDsharp were applied to the luminance image.

  • Digital Development (DDP) via Maxim/DL was also used in order to display the the very dim and very bright details of the image simultaneously.

  • Minimum credit line: Jon and Bryan Rolfe/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

    RETURN to the GALAXIES page.

    BACK to main Best of AOP page.

    Updated: 03/26/2003