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Image Details: M051 - The Whirlpool Galaxy and NGC 5195

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M051 - The Whirlpool Galaxy and NGC 5195

Object/Name: M051 (NGC 5194 and NGC 5195, The Whirlpool Galaxy, Arp 85) Image Details:
Type: Galaxy (Irregular) Luminance IRB:10.00 min. (12) – 120.00 min. 1x1
Constellation: Canes Venatici Red:10.00 min. (9) – 90.00 min. 1x1
RA: Green:10.00 min. (8) – 80.00 min. 1x1
Dec: +47 degreees 12 minutes Blue:10.00 min. (9) – 90.00 min. 1x1
Distance: 15.0 - 37.0 million light years Total Time:380 minutes
Magnitude: 8.4 mag   
Size: 6.9 x 11.2 arc minutes   
Imaging Dates: 2 July - 4 August 2007   
Location: Dark Horse Observatory, Kimberton, PA 19460 U.S.A.   
Telescope: Takahashi BRC-250 Mount: Mountain Instruments MI-250
CCD: SBIG ST-10XME Rotator: Optec Pxyis Rotator
Focuser: Finger Lakes Instruments DF2 Filters: Astrodon Series E
Software Used:
  CCDStack MiraPro Professional
Photoshop CS2 Russel Croman’s Gradient Xterminator
Noel Carboni’s Astronomy Tools  
Detailed Information:
M051 is an irregular galaxy pair cataloged by Halton Arp as Arp 85 in his catalogue of irregular galaxies in 1966. This object was first noted by Charles Messier on 11 January 1774. It is actually two galaxies experiencing and interaction. The larger spiral, NGC 1594, is drawing material away from and has distorted the smaller one, NGC 1595. There are also many background galaxies to be seen several of which are identified in this negative version of the image.


NGC 5195, is the proper name of the companion of M51. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 20, 1781. It is mentioned in Charles Messier’s description of M51 in the final (1781) edition of his original catalog. It was assigned an own number by William Herschel when he cataloged it on May 12, 1787: H I.186. Because of Messier's description, NGC 5195 is sometimes considered as part of Messier Object 51; then the main galaxy, NGC 5194, is denoted M51 A. Additionally, NGC 5195 is sometimes referred to as M51 B.

One supernova was discovered in NGC 5195. The supernova 1945A was found by Humason in this galaxy on April 8, 1945, 6'W and 4'S of the galaxy's nucleus, and reached mag 14.0.

Additionally, as outlined in this write up be SEDS, a more recent supernova was identified in M51. The close up by the Hubble space telescope shows the core detail of M51 in a way that I can only dream of ever capturing.


  May 12, 1994, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has returned the most  detailed images ever of supernova 1994I in the Whirlpool Galaxy M51.

The view in this picture encompasses the inner region of the galaxy's grand spiral disk, which extends all the way to the bright nucleus.

An arrow points to the location of the supernova, which lies approximately 2,000 light-years from the nucleus. The supernova appears to be superposed on a diffuse background of starlight. The Hubble Space Telescope was also used to measure the spectrum of the supernova in the ultraviolet light, which can be used to analyze the chemical composition and the motion of the gas ejected in the explosion.

This supernova was discovered on April 2, 1994 by amateur astronomers Jerry Armstrong and Tim Puckett of the Atlanta Astronomy Club and has been the target of investigations by astronomers using ground-based optical and radio telescopes and NASA's International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite. Because a supernova explosion is a billion times as bright as a star like the Sun, they can be seen to great distances and may prove useful in charting the size of the universe. These previous observations show that SN 1994I is a very unusual supernova, called "Type Ic," for which very few examples have been studied carefully. The ultraviolet observations made with HST will help astronomers understand what type of stellar explosion led to supernova 1994I.

Credit: Robert P. Kirshner/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, NASA

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