Whirlpool Galaxy is one common name among stargazers. This spiral galaxy sits relatively close to our very own Milky Way Galaxy, making the Whirlpool Galaxy our neighbor. In this article titled 20 interesting Whirlpool Galaxy facts, we will learn a few things like who discovered the galaxy, how far is it from our Earth, how big is the galaxy, how many stars are present in the galaxy and so on… So, if you like gazing at stars and you love to learn about new galaxies, this article will help.
Interesting Whirlpool Galaxy Facts: 1-10
2. The official name of this galaxy is M51. It also goes by the name NGC 5194.
3. This galaxy is about 30 million light years away from our Milky Way Galaxy.
4. Astronomers estimate that there are more than 100 billion stars in this galaxy.
5. The total mass of the galaxy is approximately 160 billion times the mass of our Sun.
6. In terms of diameter, the galaxy, according to NASA, is exactly 60 thousand light years across.
7. In order to spot the Whirlpool Galaxy, one needs to look at Canes Venatici constellation. The exact location will be towards the southeast of Big Dipper.
8. The initial discovery of the galaxy took place in 1773. Back then, astronomer Charles Messier was busy plotting celestial objects that the comet-hunters often found confusing. While doing so, he spotted the galaxy and cataloged it as ‘Messier 51’ from where the name M51 comes. Charles actually made 110 entries in his catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulas.
9. This galaxy has a smaller companion galaxy which is catalogued NGC 5195. The discovery of this companion galaxy took place in 1781. The discovered was Pierre Méchain. Pierre was a close friend of Charles Messier (according to University of Manitoba).
10. The true structure of M51 was revealed only in 1845 when a 72’ reflector telescope was used to spot it. Its true structure was first observed by William Parsons. Parsons actually made a drawing, which is described as mid-19th century-astronomy’s classic work (according to Encyclopedia Britannica).