Whirlpool Galaxy (M51): A pair of
galaxies about 30 million light years from Earth.
Caption: Chandra's image highlights
the energetic central regions of the two interacting galaxies
that are collectively called the Whirlpool Galaxy. A large
number of point-like X-ray sources due to black holes and
neutron stars can also be seen. The inset shows an expanded
image of the central region of the larger galaxy, NGC 5194.
Extending to the north and south of the bright nucleus are
clouds of multimillion degree gas that are thought to be heated
by high-velocity jets produced near a supermassive black hole in
the nucleus of the galaxy. On the lower left is a faint source
of X-rays produced by a shock wave from a rare type of supernova
that was observed to explode in 1994.
Scale: Large image: 11.6'x10', Inset:
Chandra X-ray Observatory ACIS
CXC operated for
NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical