Whirlpool Galaxy

M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici (NGC 5194/5195)

Object type: Spiral (Sc type) galaxy
Distance from Earth: 15,000,000 light years
4.6 Megaparsecs

M51 is actually a pair of spiral galaxies that are being shaped by their gravitational interaction. NGC 5194 is the larger galaxy, weighing roughly 100 billion times as much as the sun. It is about three times larger than its companion galaxy, NGC 5195.