Pinwheel Galaxy facts article here will give you a glimpse of the most beautiful spiral galaxy you can see in night sky. As we explore through some of the most fascinating Pinwheel Galaxy facts, we will also let you know what you can expect to see with a telescope you own.
So, instead of wasting time any further, let us start exploring some fascinating facts about Pinwheel Galaxy. We are sure, you will love them.
Interesting Pinwheel Galaxy Facts: 1-5
1. The Pinwheel Galaxy was first cataloged by Charles Messier. He was point out objects in sky that were not comets.
2. The Pinwheel Galaxy was the 101th object he cataloged and hence, it is known as M101 (which stands for Messier 101).
3. However, this spiral galaxy is also known by the name: NGC 5457.
4. Sitting at a distance of 21 million light years from Earth, it is sometimes known as, Face-On Spiral Galaxy.
5. This galaxy is massive. It has a diameter of around 170,000 light years across.
Interesting Pinwheel Galaxy Facts: 6-10
6. Pinwheel Galaxy sits in the Ursa Major constellation. Ursa Major is also known by the name Big Dipper.
7. As we said, the galaxy is massive. It is about 70% bigger than our very own Milky Way Galaxy.
8. The light of the Pinwheel Galaxy that you can observe using your telescope travelled for 21 million years. That’s when humans didn’t even exist.
9. Scientists estimate that the galaxy has at least 1 trillion stars in it.
10. If you ask about its mass, the Pinwheel Galaxy’s total mass is equivalent to 100 billion solar masses. That is, if we put together 100 billion suns, the mass we get is the mass the mass of the galaxy.
Interesting Pinwheel Galaxy Facts: 11-15
11. Scientists often define the Pinwheel Galaxy is weekly-barred spiral galaxy.
12. The spiral arms of the galaxy are the places where new stars are born. There are over 3,000 such places in its arms.
13. That is the maximum number of star birth regions found in any similar galaxy that has been observed till date.
14. These star birth regions of the Pinwheel Galaxy are known as H-II regions. Such a name comes from the fact that those regions have high amounts of hydrogen gas.
15. Most interesting of Pinwheel Galaxy facts is that its central bulge is very small compared to its whole size. The central bulge has a weight of only 3 billion solar masses.
Interesting Pinwheel Galaxy Facts: 16-20
16. The central bulge of the Pinwheel is also very very quite! Almost no stars are born in that region.
17. Yet another of interesting Pinwheel Galaxy facts is that there is no central black hole in the galaxy. This is very rare because most galaxies do have a supermassive black hole at the center. Even our Milky Way has one.
18. 4 supernova explosions have been recorded in M101 so far. The first one was in January 1909. The second one in September 1951. The third one was in January 1970. The fourth one was in February 2015.
19. Though Charles Messier catalogued the galaxy, the first official discovery of the galaxy was made by Pierre Méchain. The discovery was made in 1781 on March 27.
20. It is believed that the galaxy had an encounter with some other galaxy in the past. This is because, one side of the galaxy is asymmetrical. This is possible only when two galaxies collide.
How to spot the Pinwheel Galaxy?
Here are the steps to follow:
- Find Big Dipper.
- Locate the last two stars of its tail or the handle.
- Draw an imaginary point right at the center of the two stars.
- From that point, draw an imaginary line straight up until the point where the top point of the line makes and equilateral triangle with the two stars.
- The Pinwheel Galaxy sits right there.
What instruments to be used to see Pinwheel Galaxy?
- Binoculars – 40mm and 50mm both will work – all you can see is a hazy patch.
- 4” telescope in very dark sky will show you the central core, which is pretty bright.
- Spiral arms can be spotted using a 6” telescope.
Do not magnify too much because the overall galaxy is relatively faint. Too much magnification may mean you may end up looking through the galaxy instead of looking at it.