M51
M51 - Whirlpool Galaxy
Probably the best known, most often observed galaxy in the northern hemisphere, the Whirlpool Galaxy is one of the brightest and most beautiful of spiral galaxies. This is a another example of colliding galaxies where the larger galaxy on the left, NGC 5194, may absorb the smaller right side galaxy, NGC 5195. Or they may just be passing each other and just shaking hands. Most likely 5195 has passed through the galactic plane multiple times, has caused increased star formation along the arms, and is currently behind the larger galaxy as evident in this image. Even through small telescopes you can see the pair of galaxies, and through 6-8" telescope you can start to resolve the wonderful galaxy arms. Note how the arms of NGC 5194 are slightly bent, likely due to the gravitational distrotion of 5195. M51 is a Seyfert galaxy, which accounts for about 10% of all galaxies. Seyferts have very active central cores powered similarly to those of quasars, but much closer and less luminous. We now know that supermassive black holes surrounded by accretion disks of doomed material dominate the centers of these galasies.  The stats for M51 are Constellation: Canes Venatici, RA: 13h 29m 53.3s, Dec: +47° 11' 48, Magnitude: 9.0 (B), Size: 10.3'x8.1', Class: SA(s)bc pec.
Optics: RC Optical System 20" F/8.2 (4165.6mm FL) Date: May-June 2020
Camera: SBIG STXL-11000 with AO-X Adaptive Optics Location: Columbus, Texas
Exposure: LRGB = 480:100:60:100 minutes Imager: Kent E. Biggs