The Present Meets The Past in the Sky

Whirlpool Galaxy (Wikipedia)

To say that I am in awe of space is an understatement. Our sky is always there in its multitude of colours and shapes. It is always there, so dependable yet evoking the full range of our emotions. In daylight we are entranced by the glorious blue above us, entertained by the dancing clouds, brought to tears at the sight of a rainbow or perhaps fearful of the approaching storm clouds.

At night we look up. Admittedly in the cities it is hard to discern the world of wonder beyond us that is the universe. But thanks to science we can now see not into the future but into the past. The Hubble Space Telescope can take a picture of a galaxy 100 million light years away so that when we see the image we are seeing the galaxy as it looked 100 million years ago.

Today I am going to show you a video created through 3D visualization of the Whirlpool Galaxy also known as Messier 51. It is one of the nearest and best examples of a grand design spiral galaxy and Hubble captured it for us in all its glory.

As you watch this video you are looking at the galaxy as it was 25 million years ago!!

The images expose the full details of the galaxy's swirling structures of stars, gas, and dust. The striking symmetry of its spiral pattern may be due to a gravitational interaction with a companion dwarf galaxy, NGC 5195, which is not included in this visualization.

The flight across the pancake-shaped disk features the older, yellower stars toward the center and the younger, bluer stars in the outer regions. Dark dust lanes outline the spiral arms, along which are strewn an array of bright pink star-forming regions.
(Credit: F. Summers, J. DePasquale, and D. Player (STScI))


Please follow this link to view The Whirlpool Galaxy.


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