Looking out my own window this morning provides a gloomy overcast view, so this new image from the Spitzer Space Telescope provides a day-brightener: a pink sunflower! This is the Sunflower galaxy, also known as Messier 63, and with Spitzers’ infrared eyes, the arms of the galaxy show up vividly. Infrared light is sensitive to the dust lanes in spiral galaxies, which appear dark in visible-light images. Spitzer’s view reveals complex structures that trace the galaxy’s spiral arm pattern.
This galaxy is about 37 million-light years away from Earth, and lies close to the well-known Whirlpool galaxy and the associated Messier 51 group of galaxies.