Best of AOP - Galaxies

M51 (Whirlpool)

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 right 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 light-years away.

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

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Last Updated: 20-Feb-2014

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About This Image

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Equipment

20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.1

Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

LRGB color production was used to create this image.

CCDStack was used for calibration, registration, noise reduction and combining (mean) of filtered images.

The combined luminance frame was sharpened by deconvolution in CCDstack before further processing in

Photoshop and Camera RAW using the LRGB method.

Luminance = 60 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 30 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 30 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 30 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: George Hatfield and Flynn Haase/NOAO/AURA/NSF