M74: The Perfect Spiral
October 6, 2003
If not perfect, then this spiral galaxy is at least one of the most photogenic. An island universe of about 100 billion stars, 30 million light-years away toward the constellation Pisces, NGC 628 or M74 presents a gorgeous face-on view to earthbound astronomers. Classified as an Sc galaxy, the grand design of M74's graceful spiral arms traced by bright blue star clusters and dark cosmic dust lanes, is similar in many respects to our own home galaxy, the Milky Way. Recorded with a 28 million pixel detector array, this impressive image celebrated first light for the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS), a state-of-the-art instrument operational at the 8-meter Gemini North telescope. The Gemini North Observatory gazes into the skies above Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, while its twin observatory, Gemini South, operates from Cerro Pachón in central Chile.
Topics: Extragalactic astronomy, Spiral galaxies, Astronomy, Messier 74, Cerro Pachón, Gemini Observatory, Large-scale structure of the cosmos, Barred spiral galaxies, Galaxy, Milky Way, Local Group, Hospitality Recreation, Gemini-North Observatory, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, Chile, United States