Galaxies are ginormous collections of stars and other cosmic stuff. Many of them, including our own, are shaped like (and spin like) a Frisbee. We see some galaxies "edge-on", as with the hamburger-ish member of the Lio Trio, below. Some we see with the frisbee at various angles, and some "top-on" like M101.
I updated my Andromeda picture late 2010 after re-shooting from the dark skies of West Texas.
Markarian's Chain of Galaxies - 2009
Galaxy NGC 1365 is near NGC 55;
NGC 55, scroll down
M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy Page
What is a galaxy, exactly? (from SEDS):
Galaxies are large systems of stars and interstellar matter, typically containing several million to some trillion stars, of masses between several million and several trillion times that of our Sun, of an extension of a few thousands to several 100,000s light years, typically separated by millions of light years distance. They come in a variety of flavors: Spiral, lenticular, elliptical and irregular. Besides simple stars, they typically contain various types of star clusters and nebulae.
We live in a giant spiral galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, of 100,000 light years diameter and a mass of roughly a trillion solar masses. The nearest dwarf galaxies, satellites of the Milky Way, are only a few 100,000 light years distant, while the nearest giant neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, also a spiral, is about 2-3 million light years distant.
Older images above used a Nikon D100 DSLR, newer the Canon EOS D20a
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