The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51, is one of the nearest and best examples of a grand design spiral galaxy. Located about 25 million light-years away, the face-on galaxy exposes the full details of its swirling structures of stars, gas, and dust. The striking symmetry of its spiral pattern may be due to a gravitational interaction with a companion dwarf galaxy, NGC 5195, which is not included in this visualization.
The Hubble Space Telescope's high-resolution view of this magnificent spiral galaxy comes to life in this 3D visualization. The flight across the pancake-shaped disk features the older, yellower stars toward the center and the younger, bluer stars in the outer regions. Dark dust lanes outline the spiral arms, along which are strewn an array of bright pink star-forming regions.
F. Summers, J. DePasquale, and D. Player (STScI)
Production: February 26, 2019
Publication: March 8, 2019