Whirlpool of Stars
Twenty-three million light-years away, the "Whirlpool galaxy" crashes into its tiny dwarf companion, NGC 5195, at left. The massive forces of the collision form the distinctive spiral "arms" of stars seen above in a new image from the German-Spanish Astronomical Center at Calar Alto, Spain.
Although there's no shortage of images of the Whirlpool galaxy, or Messier 51, this new, color-enhanced picture was made with particular attention to hydrogen, shown in pink. Ionized hydrogen is emitted as the colliding gases of these galaxies explode into new stars.
Space Photos This Week: Hayabusa Fireball, Whirlpools
A dazzling fireball from a Japanese spacecraft, a whirlpool galaxy with an appetite, and a boomerang-shaped stellar jet are among the week's space pictures.