Close to the Great Bear
(Ursa Major) and surrounded by the stars
(Canes Venatici), this celestial wonder was
in 1781 by the
Later, it was added to the catalog of his friend and colleague
Charles Messier as
Modern deep telescopic views reveal it to be an
island universe --
a spiral galaxy around 30 thousand light-years across located
only about 21 million light-years beyond the stars of the Milky Way.
Along with a bright central core,
colorful composite image highlights
youthful blue star clusters and reddish stellar nurseries
tracing the galaxy's spiral arms.
It also shows off remarkable reddish
glowing hydrogen gas.
In addition to small companion galaxy NGC 4248 (bottom right)
background galaxies can be found scattered
throughout the frame.
M106 (aka NGC 4258) is a nearby example of the
Seyfert class of active galaxies,
the spectrum from radio to x-rays.
Active galaxies are believed to be powered
by matter falling into a massive
central black hole.
R Jay Gabany