M63 The Sunflfower Galaxy
The Sunflower Galaxy (also known as Messier 63, M63, or NGC 5055) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici consisting of a central disc surrounded by many short spiral arm segments. The Sunflower Galaxy is part of the M51 Group, a group of galaxies that also includes the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). One of the bright spiral galaxies visible in the north sky is M63, the Sunflower Galaxy. M63, also cataloged as NGC 5055, can be found with a moderately sized telescope in the constellation of Canes Venaciti. Visible in the above picture are long winding spiral arms glowing blue from a few bright young stars, emission nebulae glowing red from hot ionized hydrogen gas, and dark dust in numerous filaments. Light takes about 35 million years to reach us from M63, and about 60,000 years to cross the spiral galaxy compared to 100,000 years for our Milky Way. Stars in the outer regions of the Sunflower Galaxy rotate about the center at a speed so high they should fly off into space, indicating that some sort of strange, invisible, gravitationally-binding, dark matter is present. The Sunflower Galaxy was discovered by Pierre Méchain on June 14, 1779. The galaxy was then listed by Charles Messier as object 63 in the Messier Catalog. In the mid-19th century, Lord Rosse identified spiral structure within the galaxy, making this one of the first galaxies in which such structure was identified. In 1971, a supernova with a magnitude of 11.8 appeared in one of the arms of M63.