Pictures of the Sunflower Galaxy
Facts about and images of M63, also known as the Sunflower Galaxy.
Messier 63 is also known as the Sunflower Galaxy due to the wispy spiral arms and bright centre that give it a floral appearance.
It may be a spiral galaxy, but a closer look at pictures of the Sunflower Galaxy reveals that its spiral arms are not distinct, defined structures like those of the Whirlpool Galaxy, for example.
Instead, it appears to have an indeterminate number of spiral arms bound closely together, and is what's known as a flocculent spiral galaxy.
In fact, the Sunflower Galaxy only really has two spiral arms, but they are wound tightly round and round the galactic core, giving the impression of numerous arms.
These arms are peppered with hot young stars glowing bright blue, indicating that this is very much an active galaxy and a region of rapid star formation.
Messier 63 is located 27 million lightyears away in the constellation Canes Venatici.
It belongs to the M51 Group of galaxies, named after its brightest member, the aforementioned Whirlpool Galaxy.
Below is a selection of images of the Sunflower Galaxy captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers.