Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2016 August 4
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M63: Sunflower Galaxy Wide Field
Image Credit & Copyright: Data - Deep Sky West, Processing - John Vermette

Explanation: The Sunflower Galaxy blooms near the centre of this wide field telescopic view. The scene spans about 2 degrees or 4 full moons on the sky toward the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. More formally known as Messier 63, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Surrounding its bright yellowish core, sweeping spiral arms are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with star forming regions. A dominant member of a known galaxy group, M63 has faint, extended features that could be the the remains of dwarf satellite galaxies, evidence that large galaxies grow by accreting small ones. M63 shines across the electromagnetic spectrum and is thought to have undergone bursts of intense star formation.

Tomorrow's picture: panorama in space

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