For the second time
in six years, a massive star exploded in the Whirlpool Galaxy. This star system lies about 23 million light-years from Earth toward the northern constellation of Canes Venatici. Actually a pair of galaxies locked in a gravitational embrace, the large spiral's structure resulted when the smaller companion came from behind and passed through its disk, As recently as 50 to 100 million years ago, a subsequent disk passage returned the smaller companion to slightly behind the larger spiral where we see it today.
This image was produced with a RCOS half meter telescope, Apogee Alta U16M
camera and Astrodon E-Series
filters. Exposure times: 480 minutes Luminance, 120 minutes Red, 120 minutes Green, 120 minutes Blue (All 1X1).
Image copyright ©2011 R Jay GaBany