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M61

NGC 4303

A barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo, lying about 52 million light years from our own Galaxy. It is part of the Virgo Cluster, and in the skies of Earth it appears as an outlier of that vast group: the southernmost of the major galaxies that make up the Cluster.

Like the Milky Way, M61 has a supermassive black hole at its core (M61's black hole is about 20% more massive than that at the heart of our own Galaxy). From that nucleus, a double bar shape extends and expands into an intricate spiral. M61's alignment relative to Earth means that its entire spiral structure is clearly visible. The M61 galaxy has at least two smaller satellite galaxies: NGC 4303B (NGC 4303 being M61 itself) and NGC 4292.

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