All About Space

Sucked into the whirlpool


The Whirlpool Galaxy is a popular target for amateur astronomer­s in Canes Venatici. Although this striking spiral is interestin­g enough on its own, it is currently in the process of absorbing its dwarf companion NGC 5195, the yellowish object seemingly clinging to one of the Whirlpool’s arms on the right. The smaller galaxy has been on a collision course with its neighbour for half a billion years, and currently lies behind it as seen from Earth, evident by the star bridge that links the pair blocking some of its light. In this Hubble image of the pair, red highlights the hydrogen within star-forming regions, blue marks hot, young stars while the yellow shows older stars.

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