Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 February 15
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M106: A Spiral Galaxy with a Strange Core
Credit: Ron & Beth Sharer, Steven White, AOP, KPNO, NOAO, NSF

Explanation: What's happening at the center of spiral galaxy M106? A swirling disk of stars and gas, M106's appearance is dominated by two bright spiral arms and dark dust lanes near the nucleus. Bright newly formed stars near their outer tips distinguish the spiral arms in the above photograph. The core of M106 glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found running the length of the galaxy. An unusual central glow makes M106 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black hole. M106, also designated NGC 4258, is a relatively close 25 million light years away, spans 30 thousand light years across, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of Canes Venatici.

Tomorrow's picture: Neptune Adapted

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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