The Whirlpool Galaxy - Sparkling with X-Rays
Nearly a million seconds of observing time with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed a spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way glittering with hundreds of X-ray points of light.
This galaxy’s official name is Messier 51 (M51) or NGC 5194, but it often goes by its nickname of the “Whirlpool Galaxy.” Like the Milky Way, the Whirlpool is a spiral galaxy with spectacular arms of stars and dust. M51 is located about 30 million light years from Earth, and its face-on orientation to Earth gives us a perspective that we can never get of our own spiral galactic home.
By using Chandra, astronomers can peer into the Whirlpool to uncover things that can only be detected in X-rays. In this new composite image, Chandra data are shown in purple. Optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope are red, green, and blue.