Home > Astronomy, Cosmology, Galaxies, General Astronomy > WIYN/NOAO: M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy, Seen With New ODI Camera On WIYN Telescope

WIYN/NOAO: M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy, Seen With New ODI Camera On WIYN Telescope


Image credit: K. Rhode, M. Young and WIYN / NOAO / AURA / NSF

Image credit: K. Rhode, M. Young and WIYN / NOAO / AURA / NSF

The Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51) has been a popular night sky target for astronomers for centuries. Charles Messier first identified it in 1773 and listed it as number 51 in his catalog. To him, it looked like a faint, fuzzy object that might be a comet. William Parsons, the 3rd Earl of Rosse, used his 72-inch telescope “Leviathan” to observe the Whirlpool in 1845. Since then, Messier 51 has likely been targeted by virtually every telescope in the northern hemisphere. It is found in the constellation Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs) and is a classic example of a spiral galaxy.

Now, a new camera on the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory has imaged the Whirlpool Galaxy anew. The wide field of the One Degree Imager (ODI) camera makes it possible to capture the entire galaxy and its companion in one pointing, something that even the Hubble Space Telescope cannot do.

“The WIYN telescope is an ideal telescope for the survey because of its wide field and because it produces some of the sharpest, highest-quality images possible with a ground-based telescope”, explained Indiana University (IU) astronomy professor Katherine Rhode. “WIYN’s 3.5-meter mirror is also very efficient at gathering light from astronomical objects, so it allows us to image faint objects, like individual star clusters within the galaxies.”

Full Story: http://www.noao.edu/news/2013/pr1309.php

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