The above Messier 74 galaxy is located about 32 million light years away, in the direction of the Pisces constellation. It is estimated to contain about 100 billion stars, slightly less than our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Instruments measuring the galaxy from Earth have a nearly face-on perspective, making images that capture its spiraling arms possible, such as this one.
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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees coverage of American constitutional law and government in the Battle for the Constitution series.