The larger galaxy in this image goes only by the boring name “M106”, but it’s anything but boring.
About 23 million light-years away, M106 is pretty similar to Andromeda in its size and brightness. But M106 is a lot weirder.
In addition to its slightly warped shape, M106 is the home of a giant water-vapor “megamaser.” Think a galaxy-sized laser beam made of microwaved water vapor. We’re talking galactic death rays here! You’ll also spot lots of other more distant galaxies in this part of the sky.
This image represents over 11 hours of exposure time, and even so, it’s still kind of grainy. 23 million light years is very far away!