Space Images For Students
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Whirlpool galaxy, featured on Space Images for Students
Stars & Galaxies Whirlpool Galaxy
The Whirlpool galaxy is a famous spiral galaxy. (The Milky Way galaxy, home to our sun, is also a spiral galaxy.) The Whirlpool galaxy is also called Messier 51, named after Charles Messier, who discovered it in 1773. The Whirpool's very bright spiral arms show areas of compressed dust and gas.

A dwarf galaxy, called NGC 5195, is the bright spot near the tip of the upper spiral arm. The Whirlpool galaxy is interacting with this smaller galaxy.

This image is just a sample of the millions of galaxies that have been imaged by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Explorer, or WISE.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA