Spiral Galaxies are very photogenic and obviously needed to be in the Space Scenery series…
As always, click an image to view the much bigger versions.
Let’s start with our closest neighbour: The Andromeda Galaxy. It is approximately 2.5 million light-years away and about twice as big as our galaxy, The Milky Way. From a reasonably dark site, it is one of the furthest objects you can see with the naked eye. It is moving towards us and will collide with the Milky Way in about 4.5 billion years, most likely resulting in the two galaxies merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy.
Moving on to my favourite image: The Sombrero Galaxy (Messier M104), which is seen edge on from us. It looks like something out of a Sci-Fi film. You definitely want to click the image to view the large version:
Next: Messier 51 – the stunning Whirlpool Galaxy. It is about 23 million light years away. As it is seen face-on from Earth, and is relatively close, it has been studied extensively by professional astronomers:
Now let’s look at the same galaxy, but in infrared – this highlights the dust found in the Galaxy. In this image, to further show the dust, the optical light from the stars has been digitally removed. Scientifically it tells us a lot about the star forming regions of the galaxy. It also looks spectacular:
I’ll finish off with a few more beautiful spiral galaxies:
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