Messier 51 - UV Visible  IR
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Messier 51 - UV, Visible, & IR

April 18, 2005
This picture is a comparison of images of the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51) taken by GALEX in ultraviolet light, the visible light image from the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), and an image in near infrared light from the two micron all sky survey (2MASS). This galaxy, also known as the "Whirlpool galaxy", is 27 Million light years away from the Earth.

The GALEX picture is a combination of GALEX images taken with the FUV (colored blue) and NUV detectors (colored red).

M51 has a close companion galaxy to the North that is only just visible by the NUV detector and so looks faint and red in the GALEX image. The relative faintness of the ultraviolet emission from the companion galaxy compared to the visible and near infrared emission indicates that there is very little star formation occurring in the companion galaxy.

The red stars in the GALEX image are foreground stars in our own Milky Way galaxy.

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