Spindle galaxy

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Spindle galaxy
Ngc5866 hst big.png
Observational Data
Designation Messier 102
NGC 5866
Right ascension 15h 06m 29.5s
Declination +55° 45′ 48″
Constellation Draco
Type of object Lenticular galaxy
Dimensions 4.7 x 1.9'[1]
Magnitude Apparent Mag: +10.7[1]
Absolute Mag:
Redshift 0.002528±0.000417[2]
Distance from Earth 50 million light years[1]
Radial velocity 672 km/s[1][2]

The Spindle galaxy (M102, NGC 5866) is a galaxy in the constellation of Draco.[1] It is classified as a lenticular galaxy, classification S0. It can be observed with a small telescope with ease.


It is likely that it was discovered by Charles Messier or Pierre Méchain in 1781, but was also discovered independently by William Herschel in 1788. There remains a controversy as to whether the Spindle galaxy is in fact a duplication of M101 found in Ursa Major as Messier did not include a position when he added it to his catalogue.

To add to this, there is also another galaxy in the Serpens constellation that is sometimes referred to as the "Spindle galaxy".

Environment and Structure

The galaxy is 60,000 light years across, two thirds that of the Milky Way and possesses a small bulge surrounding a bright nucleus. It is estimated to contain 100 billion stars.[3]

Dust Lane

Unusually for a lenticular galaxy, Messier 102 contains a large dust lane spread out across the width of the galaxy.[1] Some believe that the dust has a ring shape, but this is impossible to tell as the galaxy is viewed edge on. Although classified as lenticular, M102 may in fact be a spiral galaxy and have been misclassified due to its edge on view. The extent of the dust would be common for a spiral galaxy. It is believed star formation is going on inside this dust.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The spindle galaxy from messier-objects.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 M102 from simbad.u-strasbg.fr
  3. Messier 102 from freestarcharts.com
  4. M102 from universetoday.com