Release Date: May 22, 2018 1:00PM (EDT)
Media Use: Copyright
About This Video
The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) shows unusually regular spiral arms even though it is clearly interacting with a smaller companion to the left, a process that often distorts spiral structure. Infrared light reveals the intriguing dust lanes in the Whirlpool, which exhibit unusual spoke-like patterns between the arms. These spokes may be caused by the gravitational interaction with its dust-free companion galaxy.
Optical: The Whirlpool Galaxy is a spiral interacting with a small companion
Infrared: The dusty spokes in M51 are easily seen in infrared light.
ABOUT THE INFRARED UNIVERSE COLLECTION
The human eye can only see visible light, but objects give off a variety of wavelengths of light. To see an object as it truly exists, we would ideally look at its appearance through the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Telescopes show us objects as they appear emitting different energies of light, with each wavelength conveying unique information about the object. The Webb Space Telescope will study infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity and sensitivity than ever before. Explore the Infrared Universe.
Adapted from Cool Cosmos by IPAC, with additional contributions from Bruno Merin and Miguel Merin (Pludo).