Sleeping Beauty

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M64, the Sleeing Beauty Galaxy (NASA photo)

The above image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2001. M64 or the Sleeping Beauty (also called Black Eye) Galaxy was discovered in 1779. It has a spectacular dark band of absorbing dust in front of the galaxy’s bright nucleus, giving rise to its nicknames of the “Black Eye” or “Evil Eye” galaxy.

M64 is a spiral galaxy in the Coma Berenices constellation. Sleeping Beauty may appear peaceful at first sight but it is actually tossing and turning. Recent observations have shown that the gas in the outer regions of this photogenic spiral is rotating in the opposite direction from all of the stars! Astronomers believe that the oppositely rotating gas arose when M64 absorbed a satellite galaxy that collided with it, perhaps more than one billion years ago.

The inner region has a radius of 3,000 light-years, while the outer section extends another 40,000 light-years.  Collisions between gas in the inner and outer regions are creating many hot blue stars and pink emission nebula. [Sources: NASA and Wikipedia]

Instead of a black eye or a sleeping beauty, M64 looks like a crown of thorns to me. I’d call it the Crown of Thorns Galaxy!

~Eowyn

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4 responses to “Sleeping Beauty

  1. lowtechgrannie

    Eo, I agree! It does look like the Crown of Thorns on display in the universe for those who have eyes to see. Amazing!

     
  2. Breathtaking! Astronomy has never ceased to passionate me. Oaw! It is so amazingly perfect

     
  3. Awe inspiring. This week there were 2 articles in the news by leading scientists claiming we will make contact with intelligent alien life within 20 years.

     
    • 🙂 I think there is intelligent life out there. First, it explains why they haven’t contacted us. 😀 Second, I’d really hate to think we are all alone in this huge universe.

       

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