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.
September 22, 1998
Explanation: M61 is a barred spiral galaxy located in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. Visible in M61 are a host of features common to spiral galaxies: bright spiral arms, a central bar, dust lanes, and bright knots of stars. M61, also known as NGC 4303, in similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy. M61 was discovered by telescope in 1779 twice on the same day, but one observer initially mistook the galaxy for a comet. Light from M61 takes about 60 million years to reach us. Recent observations of M61 have detected unpredicted high velocity gas moving in its halo.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.