Messier 81 is a grand design spiral galaxy located about 11.6 million light years away towards the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. Its spiral arms trace beautifully all the way to its center core, the hallmark of a grand design galaxy.
The arms contain many younger, blue stars formed in the past few million years, along with a population of stars formed in a period of star formation starting about 600 million years ago. The core contains older, redder stars, and is much larger than our Milky Way’s central bulge. The central black hole is also larger than our galaxy’s, about 15 times so. Research has shown that the size of the central black hole is proportional to the mass of the central bulge.
Image from NASA, information from ESA.