Whirlpool Galaxy

May 28, 2012

Whirlpool Galaxy 2

: John Chumack 
Summary Author: John Chumack

May 2012 Viewer's Choice Shown above are two colliding galaxies in the direction of the Canes Venatici constellation, only a few degrees from the end star in the handle of the Big Dipper. The featured galaxy is the classic spiral of M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as NGC-5194. In this image, M51 is interacting with the dwarf galaxy NGC-5195 to the left. The pair is approximately 23 million light-years away from our Milky Way Galaxy.

I processed this image to highlight the tidal (gravitational) structures in the tail of M51 and its companion. Note the crimson-colored dust lanes swirling toward the center of M51 as well as the faint background galaxies behind and below the tidal tail. This is a 17.5 hour exposure acquired during seven separate nights in early 2010 and early 2011. All data were taken with my homemade 16 inch, F4.5, fork mounted Newtonian telescope, at John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  

Image Details: Captured with my QHY8 Cooled color CCD camera and my modified Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR camera, data from both cameras were used -- both employed a Celestron Coma Corrector and Astronomiks CLS filter. Both camera data sets were combined and resized to match in Maxim DL; initial color balanced performed in Nebulosity; Gradient XT to remove light pollution gradients; Adobe PS was used for Luminance Layering and final color balance. Luminance Data (QHY8) 4 hours (240 minutes) Hydrogen Alpha Data (QHY8) 3.5 hours (210 minutes) RGB Data = modified Baader Canon Rebel Xsi 10 hours (600 minutes); 210 sub frames captured -- total 17.5 hours or 1,050 minutes of exposure.