Picture of the Day: Skeletal Dust Structure of M51 Galaxy

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Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, this photograph shows the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, in near-infrared light. A spiral galaxy approximately 31 million light-years away from the Milky Way Galaxy, M51 is so large and bright that it can sometimes be seen from Earth with just a simple pair of binoculars. The galaxy gets its name from the narrow lanes of dust swirling into the core. The way in which this photograph was taken strips the galaxy of its starlight, revealing the dense skeletal dust structure.

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Image: NASA.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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