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Whirlpool Galaxy's (M51) Nucleus


Astronomers anticipated great discoveries, ranging from finding black holes to looking back billions of years toward the beginning of time. Now, 15 years later, the versatile telescope continues to deliver exciting new science, including helping to prove the existence of dark energy, tracing enigmatic gamma-ray bursts to distant galaxies, and sampling the atmospheres of far-flung planets. New breathtaking images will be released of a majestic spiral galaxy teeming with newborn stars and an eerie-looking spire of gas and dust. The new image of the well-known spiral galaxy M51 (known as the Whirlpool Galaxy), showcases a spiral galaxy's classic features, from its curving arms, where newborn stars reside, to its yellowish central core, a home for older stars. A feature of considerable added interest is the companion galaxy located at the end of one of the spiral arms. The new photograph of the Eagle Nebula shows a tall, dense tower of gas that is being sculpted by ultraviolet light from a group of massive, hot stars.



The pictures are among the largest and sharpest views taken by Hubble. The images, taken by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, are 20 times larger than a photograph taken by a typical digital camera. The new images are so sharp that they could be enlarged to billboard size and still retain the stunning details. Mural-sized images of both celestial objects will be unveiled at 100 museums, planetariums, and science centers across the country, from Guam to Maine. The 4-foot-by-6-foot image of M51 and the 3-foot-by-6-foot photograph of the Eagle Nebula will be on display at all the sites.



Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

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