Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Astronomy Picture of the Day: 12/03/13 - M96

In this lovely image, captured by the Caelum Observatory, one can see the colorful portrait of a swirling spiral galaxy as it dances about the abyss of interstellar space.

Messier 96, as its called (also known as NGC 3368), is a primary member of the Leo I galaxy group, a collection of 8 to 24 galaxies (at least 3 of which are Messier objects) located more than 38 million light-years away (in the direction of the constellation of Leo).

The galaxy in question is quite large, spanning some 100,000 light-years across (making it equivalent in size to our own galaxy, the Milky Way). The spiral arms are particularly lovely; appearing dominant as they branch away from the central nucleus of Messier 96, before decreasing in brightness to a faint glow once reaching the outer cusp of the galaxy.

Sources & Further Reading: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/astronomy-picture-of-the-day-120313-m96/

Image Credit: Adam Block (Caelum Observatory), Acknowledgement: R. Jay GaBany

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