Whirlpool Galaxy in Infrared (Image Credit: Infrared: NASA, ESA, M. Regan & B. Whitmore (STScI), & R. Chandar (U. Toledo); Optical: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), & the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

You may not believe it, but this is one of the most recognizable galaxies in the universe (not that you'd be able to tell based on appearance alone). Called Messier 51 (M51)—most know it as the Whirlpool Galaxy—it can be found approximately 30 million light-years from Earth in the Canes Venatici constellation.

This image of the Whirlpool Galaxy—taken by Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) instrument— shows how it appears in infrared light. as it is useful in helping astronomers see denser regions of dust (brighter regions represent places where dust is present in the largest quantities, and where the most stars are being born).

See a larger image here.


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