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Galaxy M100
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Galaxy M100

June 27, 2007

This is an image of the grand design spiral galaxy M100 obtained with the second generation Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WFPC-2) on the Hubble Space Telescope.

M100 is one of the brightest member galaxies of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.

M100 is a spiral galaxy, like our Milky Way, and tilted nearly face-on as seen from earth. It is among the first spirals that have been discovered, and listed by Lord Rosse as one of 14 "spiral nebulae" discovered to 1850. The galaxy has two prominent arms of bright blue stars and several fainter arms. The blue stars in the arms are young hot and massive stars which formed recently from density perturbations caused by interactions with neighboring galaxies which are lying just outside our image. Despite its nearly perfect symmetric outline, this galaxy appears slightly asymmetric, as on the southern (lower) side of the nucleus more (or brighter) young stars have formed.

Though the galaxy lies several tens of millions of light-years away, optics incorporated within the WFPC-2 allow Hubble to view M100 with a level of clarity and sensitivity previously possible only for the very few nearby galaxies that compose our "Local Group."

Just as one does not learn about the diversity of mankind by conversing only with your next door neighbor, astronomers must study many galaxies in a host of different environments if they are to come to understand how our own galaxy, out star, and our earth came to be.



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