A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky,
is about 25 million light-years distant in the
Also cataloged as NGC 5055, the majestic
is nearly 100,000 light-years across, about the size
of our own Milky Way.
Known by the popular moniker, The Sunflower Galaxy,
M63 sports a bright yellowish core and sweeping blue spiral arms,
streaked with cosmic dust lanes and
dotted with pink star forming regions.
deep exposure also reveals an enormous but dim
arc extending far into the halo above the brighter galactic plane.
A collaboration of professional and amateur astronomers has shown
the arc to be consistent with the stellar stream from a smaller
satellite galaxy, tidally disrupted as it
merged with M63 during the last 5 billion years.
Their discovery is part of an increasing
body of evidence that the
growth of large spirals by cannibalizing smaller galaxies is
commonplace in the
R Jay GaBany -
Ray Gralak (New Mexico Skies),
Gary J. Hill (McDonald Obs),
S. R. Majewski