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Hubble Space Telescope Spots Cosmic Sunflower Galaxy with Stunning Detail

First Posted: Sep 15, 2015 08:34 AM EDT
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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a spectacular new image of the galaxy Messier 63, a cosmic sunflower swirling in the middle of space. Nicknamed the "Sunflower Galaxy," this object has spiral arms and millions of stars.

The galaxy was actually first discovered in 1779 by Pierre Mechain. Later, though, the galaxy made it as the 63rd entry into fellow French astronomer Charles Messier's famous catalogue, published in 1781.

The Sunflower Galaxy itself is located in the small, northern constellation Canes Venatici. It's about 27 million light-years away from Earth and belongs to the M51 Group, which is a group of galaxies named after its brightest member, called Messier 51. This brightest galaxy is another spiral-shaped galaxy more commonly known as the Whirlpool Galaxy.

The Sunflower Galaxy is about 100,000 light-years in diameter. This is very similar in size to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Because of the active regions in this galaxy, astronomers believe it's probably interacting with some of the closer galaxy, such as the Whirlpool Galaxy.

The galaxy has a bright, yellow middle and sweeping blue spiral arms that are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star-forming regions.

This new image shows a bit more about this galaxy, and shows off one of the truly stunning cosmic gems in our universe.

In order to see more Hubble images, check out NASA's website.

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