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Pinwheel Galaxy (M101)

M101, NGC 5457, The Pinwheel Galaxy


A face-on spiral galaxy


Found in the northern constellation Ursa Major

Distance from Earth

About 21 million light-years


The galaxy is roughly 170,000 light-years in diameter.

The bright blue clumps are regions where new stars have formed. The yellowish core consists mainly of old stars. The dark brown dust lanes are denser regions where interstellar clouds may collapse to form new stars.

Enlarge Image


"Fast Facts: The Pinwheel Galaxy (M101)" is a table that lists the name, description, location, size, and distance of the galaxy from Earth. A picture of the galaxy is included.

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Adaptable, at teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Use this resource as:

A source of information. Read the table to find out about this object.

A mapping activity. Locate the galaxy's associated constellation on a star map.

A large-number recognition activity. Have students study this table and other galaxy Fast Fact tables.  Students can order objects based upon their distances from Earth.

An inquiry tool. Have students write down questions they would like answered about the image and the information in the Fast Facts table.

An engagement tool. Involve students in a discussion.

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