Whirlpool Galaxy (M51): Canes Venatici


M51 the celebrated Whirlpool Galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici, (CVn) once believed to be a great swirling nebula, it is now known to be the optimum illustration of a stunning “grand-design spiral galaxy.”

Nestling deep within the spiralling arms of Canes Venatici’s Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), the stunning glacial blue pyramid world, Chisanu-AO4 is located. The home world of the exotic Whirlpool Galaxy Pyramid Wolves, Chisanu-AO4 lies to the north of the neighbouring Sunflower Galaxy (M63), Meridian, and Equinox, home world of the Sunflower Wolves.

The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy M51, NGC 5194), a classic spiral galaxy located in the Canes Venatici constellation, and its companion M51B or NGC 5195 – the smaller object in the upper right.

Attribute: By NASA and European Space Agency – http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap050428.html SOURCE OF 2ND VERSION: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0506a/ Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3863746

Winding Arms

The most spectacular features of the Whirlpool galaxy – officially known as M51a, are the elegant, spiralling arms that give the impression of an illustrious flight of stairs arching through space, reaching towards the yellowish galactic centre where the older stars reside. Coiling ribbon-like around the central core, dubbed “The Whirlpool” for its similarity to a vortex in the aquatic realms, these extensive spiral arms are peppered with dusky trails of fledgling stars and hydrogen gas, interwoven with brighter lit localities; their function being the creation of new stars and star clusters. Such dramatic and eye-catching winding arms are a distinguishing feature of “grand-design spiral galaxies.”

Colliding Galaxies

M51a is an 8th magnitude spiral galaxy, accompanied by a more modest-sized yellowish satellite galaxy, which is located towards the end of one of the coiling arms.  Jointly designated as M51, the two galaxies are merging.

Whirlpool Galaxy Black Holes

Both galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their galactic cores, millions of times more massive than Earth’s Sun, and which release potent x-rays.

The M51a Whirlpool Galaxy blackhole was also, the route the Chisanu-AO4 Pyramid wolves took on their journey out of the galaxy into new realms of Intergalactic space.

Neutron Stars and Supernovas

M51 also hosts an extraordinarily radiant neutron star, (the remaining dense lump of matter after the end-of-life explosion of a massive star) which belongs to the brand-new category – ultraluminous neutron stars.

In 2005 a supernova – SN2005, was witnessed reaching an apparent magnitude of 14.

On 31 May 2011 a type II supernova was discovered in the Whirlpool Galaxy, maxing out at magnitude 12.1

On 22 January 2019, what appeared to be a supernova but was later recognised to be a luminous red nova – AT2019abn, was discovered in the M51 galaxy. –These novae are extra bright but less intensely luminous than a supernova. Characterised by a distinct red colour which intensifies over time, they are the result of the two stars merging and causing the explosion that that triggers a luminous red nova.

CvN Planets

Besides the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Canes Venatici system itself houses two official extrasolar gas giant planets:

  1. HAT-P-12B – around 466 LY from Earth, detected in 2009 and orbiting its star in just 3.2 Earth days.
  2. And HAT-P-36B roughly 960 LY from Earth, detected in 2011, orbiting its star even faster in only 1.3 Earth days.

CvN Candidate Planet

The Canes Venatici system (CnV) also hosts a candidate exoplanet, M51-ULS-1b. Similar in size to Saturn it was detected in September 2020 by the Chandra X-ray Observatory and orbits the “high-mass X-ray binary” M51-ULS-1. If verified, it would be the first occurrence of an extragalactic planet, identified outside of our own Galaxy.


7 thoughts on “Whirlpool Galaxy (M51): Canes Venatici

    1. Thanks Cindy! 😊 But there’s a long, long way to go to even remotely come close to your photographic talents😃 Happy Holidays to you too🎅🤶🎄And I think it’s high time I paid your blog a visit!

    1. I love the uniqueness of spirals – from little snail shells 🐚 to galactic spirals in space, each and every one is one of a kind and never repeated in exactly the same way…like wordpressers! 😉😀

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