Thursday, July 17, 2014 12:00am -0400

Galactic Pinwheel

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The Pinwheel Galaxy The Pinwheel Galaxy Terry Hancock

Like a pinwheel, this galaxy spins seemingly with the help of unseen cosmic breath. The Pinwheel Galaxy also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457, is a face-on spiral galaxy at a distance of 21 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. With a diameter of about 170,000 light years it is 70 percent larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Booming with old and young stars, M101 has some huge and extremely bright H II regions. In this image these can be seen as the tiny pockets of fiery red and these areas are mainly comprised of enormous clouds of hydrogen gas and star forming regions we often refer to as nebulae.

The fact that it is 21 million light-years away, means that the light we're seeing in this image left the Pinwheel Galaxy about 21 million years ago - many millions of years before humans ever walked the Earth.

This image was taken by astrophotographer Terry Hancock. You can view more images from Terry Hancock on his Flickr page as well as his Facebook page Down Under Observatory and his website

Read 4682 times Last modified on Thursday, July 17, 2014 2:38pm -0400
Laurel Nendza

Laurel Nendza is the owner and creator of Stellar Eyes.