Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

December 15, 1995
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M64: The Sleeping Beauty Galaxy
Credit: Bill Keel, U. Alabama

Explanation: The Sleeping Beauty galaxy may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. In an unexpected twist, recent observations have shown that the center of this photogenic galaxy is rotating in the opposite direction than the outer regions! Stranger still - there is a middle region where the stars rotate in the opposite direction from the surrounding dust and gas. The fascinating internal motions of M64, also cataloged as NGC 4826, are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy - where the resultant mix has not yet settled down.

Tomorrow's picture: Hawaii

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