This beautiful spiral galaxy is almost twice the size of our own Milky Way
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this breathtaking image of a massive, beautiful spiral galaxy known as M101. This galaxy also referred to as the Pinwheel Galaxy, spans a staggering 170,000 light-years, measuring almost twice the size of our Milky Way galaxy. This galactic giant was first identified as one of the original spiral nebulae by Lord Rosse's majestic 19th-century telescope, the Leviathan of Parsontown.
The mesmerizing image of M101, assembled from 51 exposures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, showcases the central region of the galaxy in unparalleled detail. By combining data gathered from ground-based telescopes, astronomers were able to create one of the highest-definition portraits of a spiral galaxy ever released by Hubble.
The crystal-clear image reveals a plethora of stunning features, capturing the face-on disk of stars and dust that characterize M101. Background galaxies can also be observed, some of them visible right through M101 itself, further adding to the awe-inspiring nature of this extraordinary cosmic portrait.
Located within the boundaries of the northern constellation Ursa Major, approximately 25 million light-years away from Earth, M101 continues to mesmerize astronomers and stargazers alike.
This picture of M101 is featured as NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) for June 2, 2023.
Hubble is one of the most iconic and groundbreaking scientific instruments ever launched into space. Since its deployment in 1990, the observatory has provided humanity with breathtaking images of distant galaxies, nebulae, and other celestial objects, revolutionizing our understanding of the universe.
The telescope has been serviced and upgraded several times throughout its operational life. These servicing missions have replaced components, repaired instruments, and installed new technologies, ensuring the telescope's continued functionality and scientific productivity.
Hubble has truly revolutionized our view of the cosmos and deepened our appreciation for the wonders that lie beyond our home planet.