12 January 2017 | M81 and M82 in the Dust

M81 & M82 | Michael Deger

Credit & copyright: Michael Deger | Click image to enlarge

Image Data
  • Location: Erdweg, Germany
  • Camera: SBIG ST8300M
  • Optics: 4,5″-Newton (f/3,8, f =440mm)
  • Mount: 10Micron GM 1000 HPS
  • Filters: Baader HA(7nm) LRGB
  • Exposure: HA:12x10min L:78x10min RGB: 12x10min each (total exposure time: 21h)

The M81 group is a famous galaxy group in the constellations Ursa Major and Camelopardalis that includes the galaxies Messier 81 and Messier 82, a pair of galaxies discovered in 1784.

M81 (the spiral galaxy on the left) and M82 (the galaxy on the right) are two relatively nearby galaxies that are gravitationally interacting with each other. This interaction is triggering the formation of new stars in M82 at a massive rate, which can be seen from the filaments of red hydrogen gas in the galaxy.

M81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Due to its proximity to Earth, large size and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers.

Messier 82 (also known as NGC 3034, or the Cigar Galaxy) is a starburst galaxy. It is about five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way and has a center one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy’s center.

Further, more outlying members of the group include the irregular galaxy NGC 2366 and the fine spiral NGC 2403, both lying in the constellation Camelopardalis, IC 2574, “Coddington’s Nebula”, which is quite irregular but shows some “faint indications of spiral structure” (Burnham), and the irregulars Holmberg I (UGC 5139), Holmberg II (UGC 4305) and Holmberg IX (UGC 5423).

The very faint irregular dwarf galaxy Holmberg IX can barely be seen above M81.

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