Waid Observatory

Object: M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy
Date: Apr. & May, 2016    -    Location: Starr-Waid Observatory, Fort Davis, TX
Telescope: ATRC10 - Mount: Paramount MX - Camera: Apogee Alta F3800
Exposure: L=160 min. (Bin 1x1) - Ha=200 min. R=60 min. G=66 min. B=60 min. (Bin 2x2)
Guided using Innovations Foresight On Axix Guider (ONAG)
Image Credit: Preston Starr and Donald Waid
Click on the image to view at higher resolution.


M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy

M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy 1

M51 is actually two galaxies.  The larger galaxy (M51A) is designated NGC 5194 and the smaller galaxy (M51B) is designated NGC 5195.  M51 is located near the end star (Alkaid) in the Big Dipper's handle at an estimated distance of 31 million light years.

M51A and M51B have interacted gravitationally and this interaction has distorted the structure of the larger galaxy.  From our point of view M51B, the smaller galaxy, is actually behind M51A and is receding from the larger galaxy.  Some astronomers believe the smaller galaxy has possibly been captured by and is now in an elongated orbit around the larger M51A.  The eventual result may be a merger of the two galaxies.


Copyright Donald P. Waid