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Whirlpool Galaxy

Interacting grand-design spiral galaxy / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51a, M51a, and NGC 5194, is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy with a Seyfert 2 active galactic nucleus.[6][7][8] It lies in the constellation Canes Venatici, and was the first galaxy to be classified as a spiral galaxy.[9] Its distance is 31 million light-years from Earth.[10]

Quick facts: Whirlpool Galaxy, Observation data (J2000 epo...
Whirlpool Galaxy
Whirlpool Galaxy (M51A or NGC 5194). The smaller object in the upper right is M51B or NGC 5195.
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
ConstellationCanes Venatici[1]
Right ascension13h 29m 52.7s[2]
Declination+47° 11 43[2]
Distance31 Mly[3]
Apparent magnitude (V)8.4[4]
TypeSA(s)bc pec[2]
Size23.58 kiloparsecs (76,900 light-years)
(diameter; 25.0 mag/arcsec2 B-band isophote)[2][5]
Apparent size (V)11′.2 × 6′.9[2]
Notable featuresInteracting with NGC 5195[6]
Other designations
Question Mark Galaxy,[2] Rosse's Galaxy,[2] M51a,[2] NGC 5194,[2] UGC 8493,[2] PGC 47404,[2] VV 001a,[2] VV 403,[2] Arp 85,[2] GC 3572[2]

The galaxy and its companion, NGC 5195,[11] are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may be seen with binoculars.[12] The Whirlpool Galaxy has been extensively observed by professional astronomers, and its pair with NGC 5195 who study it to understand galaxy structure (particularly structure associated with the spiral arms) and galaxy interactions. Its pair with NGC 5194 is among the most famous and relatively close interacting systems, and thus is a favorite subject of galaxy interaction models.