Image Credit: Adam Block (Caelum Observatory), Acknowledgement: R. Jay GaBany


In this lovely image, captured by the Caelum Observatory, one can see the colorful portrait of a swirling spiral galaxy as it dances about the abyss of interstellar space.


Messier 96, as its called (also known as NGC 3368), is a primary member of the Leo I galaxy group, a collection of 8 to 24 galaxies (at least 3 of which are Messier objects) located more than 38 million light-years away (in the direction of the constellation of Leo).


The galaxy in question is quite large, spanning some 100,000 light-years across (making it equivalent in size to our own galaxy, the Milky Way). The spiral arms are particularly lovely; appearing dominant as they branch away from the central nucleus of Messier 96, before decreasing in brightness to a faint glow once reaching the outer cusp of the galaxy.

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