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December 18, 1995
M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy
1.1-Metre Hall Telescope,
is frequently given as an example of a galaxy with classic
spiral design. At only 15 million light years
M51, also catalogued as NGC 5194,
is also one of the brighter and more picturesque galaxies on the sky. The
smaller galaxy appearing here above and to the right is also well behind
M51, as can be inferred by the
dust in M51's spiral arm blocking light
from this smaller galaxy. Astronomers speculate that M51's spiral structure is
primarily due to it's
gravitational interaction with this smaller galaxy.
Tomorrow's picture: Albert Einstein: 1879 - 1955
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