The various spiral arm segments of the Sunflower galaxy show up vividly in this image taken in infrared light by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared light is sensitive to the dust lanes in spiral galaxies, which appear dark in visible light images.
Spitzer's infrared view reveals complex structures that trace the galaxy's spiral arm pattern.
"The dust, glowing red in this image, can be traced all the way down into the galaxy's nucleus, forming a ring around the densest region of stars at its center. The dusty patches are where new stars are being born," NASA said in an image advisory.
Blue shows infrared light with wavelengths of 3.6 and 4.5 microns, green represents 8.0-micron light and red, 24-micron light.
Messier 63 is located 37 million light years away, close to the Whirlpool galaxy — the first galaxy imaged with the European Space Agency's Herschel telescope, which views in the infrared.
The short diagonal line in the lower right of this image is a much more distant galaxy, oriented with its edge facing us.
For another view of the Sunflower galaxy, check out this deep exposure, visible light view from photographer Tony Hallas on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website.
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following msnbc.com's science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).