The Whirlpool Galaxy, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

The Whirlpool Galaxy is located 30 million light years away and is known as a classic spiral galaxy, as well as one of the brightest galaxies in the sky.   It is suggested that the spiral structure is a result of close distance to a nearby galaxy referred to as NGC 5195.  The close distance between the two galaxies creates a gravitational force that compresses clouds of hydrogen gas, which increases the rate of creation of stars.  In addition, the variation in colors exhibited in the spiral are indications of young stars and hydrogen gas in star creating regions.  There are other spiral galaxies that exhibit the same qualities as the Whirlpool Galaxy and are discussed below.

The Milky Way, in which the Earth is part of, is also known as a spiral galaxy.  It is suggested that the spiral structure of the Milky Way was formed through a series of cosmic collisions with a close-by galaxy called a drawf galaxy.  Close to the Milky Way is another great spiral galaxy known as Andromeda or M31.  Andromeda is visible to the naked eye and exhibits a small bright nucleus in the center that is slightly elongated in shape.  In fact, it is thought that the nucleus is actually two structures, with one the remains of a nucleus from another galaxy that was absorbed by Andromeda.  In addition, Messier 81 or M81, is another galaxy in which astromers refer to as a spiral galaxy.  M81 is located 12 million light-years away and is found in the Ursa Major constellation.  M81 is also referred to as one of the brightest galaxies visible with a telescope.  (National Geographic)

Although these galaxies are all referred to as “Spiral”, the processes that create the shape of the galaxies are part of natural evolutionary processes that have the potential to transform into other shapes, and thereby become other types of galaxies, such as elliptical or irregular.  (National Geographic)

Works Cited

Isaac Newton Group. The Andromeda Galaxy. 1992. http://www.ing.iac.es/PR/dissemination/andromeda.pdf

NASA.  Center of Galaxy M51 — The Whirlpool Galaxy.  2013. Retrieved from: http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/resources/print/lithos/whirlpool_litho.pdf

National Geographic.  Galaxies.  2013. Retrieved from: http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/galaxies-article/

UCI.  How the Milky Way became spiral? Retrieved from: http://hipacc.ucsc.edu/images/AstroShorts/How%20the%20Milky%20Way%20became%20spiral%20-%20AstroShort.pdf

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