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M106: A "Seyfert" Galaxy
This spiral galaxy is similar in structure to our Milky Way, but shows
several peculiar features that suggest a tortured past.
Lying about 25 million light years away, the image shows faint starlight
extending well beyond the bright inner portions. In addition, the pink
spots show areas of vigorous star formation (and the light of excited
hydrogen gas) with many massive stars producing huge nebulae. These giant
glowing clouds dwarf those in our own galaxy pictured elsewhere in this
The bright nucleus of M106 is also a strong source of radio waves and
X-rays. It is perhaps the closest example of a "Seyfert" galaxy - the
mildest form of active galactic nucleus (or AGN). AGNs are believed to be
powered by the infall of material into a massive black hole, millions of
times more massive than our sun, lying in the very center of the galaxy.