This picture of the Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51, won top honors in the Deep Space category and the overall competition
for 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Year. The picture was entered by British-Australian photographer Martin Pugh.
Here’s what the Royal Observatory says: “This beautifully composed image of the Whirlpool Galaxy combines fine
detail in the spiral arms with the faint tails of light that show its small companion galaxy being gradually torn apart
by the gravity of its giant neighbour. A closer look shows even more distant galaxies visible in the background.”