The striking arms of the Whirlpool galaxy shine stunning hues in this amazing photo by an amateur astronomer.
Photographer Jaspal Chadha captured this image from London using a Altair Astro RC 250TT Scope, a QSI 690 CCD and Ioptron CEM60 Mount.
The Whirlpool galaxy is located in the constellation of Canes Venatici, which is just below the handle of the Big Dipper and can be easily seen with a pair of binoculars. Messier 51 gets its whirlpool shape from its interaction with a companion galaxy called NGC 5195.[Gallery: Strange Nebula Shapes, What Do You See?]
The loosely-shaped arms of the galaxy are star-formation factories. In Messier 51, stars are first birthed within dark clouds of gas on the inner edge, moving to bright pink regions, and ends with blue star clusters along the outer edge. The galaxy is also famous because Lord Rosse first observed the spiral structure in 1845 using the legendary 72-inch telescope at Birr Castle in Ireland.
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