This Subaru Telescope image of the week shows spiral galaxy M63, which is located approximately 24 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Canes Venatici.
M63 (NGC 5055) is a large spiral galaxy with a beautiful spiral. It is also nicknamed the “Sunflower Galaxy” because the balanced whirlpool structure reminds us of a large flower. M63 climbs near the zenith of the spring night sky. From a dark location, you can see the bright center part of this galaxy with even a small aperture telescope.
Detailed View of the Galaxy with the Subaru Telescope
This image taken with the prime focus camera Suprime-Cam on the Subaru Telescope clearly captures the tightly-wound short arms and the red glowing nebulae scattered among the arms. The many red nebulae distributed in this galactic disk are areas where hydrogen is illuminated and ionized by hot stars (hydrogen ionization regions). There are also areas of active star formation. In addition, you can see a fine spiral structure not only in the periphery but also in the bright center of the galactic disk. The Subaru Telescope’s high performance and the great observation conditions in the Maunakea summit area make this degree of detail possible.
Text by: Tomoko Ono (Public Relations Center, NAOJ)
Translation by: Hiroko Tsuzuki and Ramsey Lundock (NAOJ)