Viewed face on, as it appeared about 30 million years ago, M74 is, therefore, considered to be one of the most photogenic spiral galaxies in the sky. This scale of this galaxy is actually quite enormous- it takes light and estimated 95,000 years to cross from one side to the other thus making is about the same size as our own Milky Way. Scattered throughout are copious quantities of brilliant, blue-white stars which illuminate its thousand light-year wide spiral arms and give them a bluish hue. In contrast, vast regions which seem to smolder with the ruddy light emitted by gas and dust indicate the location where new stars are still incubating.
M-74, however, is quite camera shy- it has a low surface brightness that makes it challenging for both visual observers and astrophotographers to see it's entire form. Interestingly, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, orbiting high above earth, discovered M-74 to be the home of a super massive black hole, tucked away in one of it's outer arms. This black hole is one of the largest ever discovered and has the mass of over 10,000 suns.