M 51 – Whirlpool Galaxy



This is a lovely example of a spiral galaxy, so called because as it rotates, its beautiful arms are dragged into a graceful spiral pattern. The smaller, yellowish galaxy visible in this image, slides behind M51 – close enough to exert a gravitational tug on the Whirlpool’s arms, enhancing their spiral form and stirring up dust-rich plumes of stars that extend between the galaxies.