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Interacting Galaxies

Whirlpool Galaxy M51

As each slider bar is manipulated, the view transitions from visible light to infrared light. In visible light: The Whirlpool Galaxy is a spiral interacting with a small companion. In infrared light: The dusty spokes in M51 are easily seen in infrared light. As each slider bar is manipulated, the view transitions from visible light to infrared light. In visible light: The Whirlpool Galaxy is a spiral interacting with a small companion. In infrared light: The dusty spokes in M51 are easily seen in infrared light.
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Infrared:
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Whirlpool Galaxy M51

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) shows unusually regular spiral arms even though it is clearly interacting with a smaller companion to the left, a process that often distorts spiral structure. Infrared light reveals the intriguing dust lanes in the Whirlpool, which exhibit unusual spoke-like patterns between the arms. These spokes may be caused by the gravitational interaction with its dust-free companion galaxy.
Visible: The Whirlpool Galaxy is a spiral interacting with a small companion.
Infrared: The dusty spokes in M51 are easily seen in infrared light.
CREDITS: Visible: Kitt Peak National Observatory 2.1m Telescope. Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Kennicutt (Univ. of Arizona).