M82 Galaxy

M82 Galaxy

The Cigar Galaxy

M82 is known as The Cigar Galaxy. This irregular-shaped galaxy was discovered in 1774 by J.E. Bode. It is a close companion to the M81 galaxy, which is separated from M82 by only 37 arc-minutes. M82 is a very unusual galaxy. It is a strong source of radio energy. The light of M82 is strongly polarized, indicating the presence of a strong magnetic field. The galaxy has filaments extending out about 10,000 light-years from the central hub, and the filaments contain material racing away from the center of the galaxy at a rate of 600 miles per second. M82 is undergoing intense star formation, which was triggered by a gravitational encounter with M81 about 100 million years ago. It is commonly accepted today that M82 has a black hole at its center, and the filiments are associated with jets emanating from the black hole. The radio enery coming from M82 is also generated by material falling into the black hole. This galaxy was included in the third version of the Messier catalog published in 1781.

M82 is located about 12 million light-years away. The distance from one end of the galaxy to the other is about 16,000 light-years, which makes it a relatively small galaxy. M82 is a member of the M81 galaxy group, which is possibly the closest galaxy group outside of the Local Group of galaxies.

This is an LRGB color composite CCD image. The RGB color data was taken on November 11, 1998, with an ST-8 CCD and Homeyer filter wheel, using a Takahashi FS-128 refractor at f8. The luminance data was taken on February 2, 2004, with an ST-8E CCD using a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor at f7. The images were aligned and combined to make this color composite image. One nice thing about digital imaging. You can create a composite image using a combination of data that was taken years apart.

M82 (NGC 3034)
Constellation: Ursa Major
RA: 09h 55m 39.4s Dec: +69d 41' 56"
November 11, 1998 & February 2, 2004
Images by Sid Leach
Nov. 11 images - Iola, Texas; Feb. 2 images - Scottsdale, Arizona

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