Striking image highlights the entirety of galaxy Messier 106

The image you see above was captured by the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. It depicts what is perhaps the best photo to date of the entirety of the spiral galaxy Messier 106, a popular target for amateur astronomers in the night sky.

Also commonly called NGC 4258, the galaxy is similar in size and brightness to the Andromeda Galaxy but is much further away at more than 20 million light-years from Earth.

The image in question has pretty much everything you’d hope for in a high-quality astrophotography snap including a massive black hole, spiral arms, wisps of gas and plenty of stars and background galaxies. Two galaxies in particular, NGC 2428 and UGC 7356, are prominently on display at the bottom right and left of Messier 106, respectively.

The black hole at the center of Messier 106 is said to be about 40 million times as large as our Sun.

(The Hubble Space Telescope has also taken a very detailed image of the galaxy, but it focused on the center and excluded some of its outer features.)

The image is also notable in that it’s among the final batch to be taken with the telescope’s Mosaic camera. The telescope will soon shift its attention to the newly installed Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) that is designed to help better understand dark energy. Full operations on that project are expected to start sometime this summer.