M51 (NGC 5194) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs). In the image, one can see M51 interacting with the dwarf galaxy NGC 5195. The galaxy is fairly close (31 million light years away), which helps make the galaxy appear larger and brighter. Because of this, M51 is a very popular target for astrophotographers.
M51 is in a group of galaxies bound together by gravity. The group called The M51 Group (because M51 is the biggest/brightest of the group) also includes the galaxy M63 – The Sunflower Galaxy.(more…)