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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2006

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Messier 32, Jeff Schiman


Messier 32 is a dwarf elliptical galaxy situated on the outer edge of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). M32 was discovered in 1749 by French astronomer La Gentil. The galaxy is easy to spot due to its intense brightness but its size pales in comparison to its gigantic neighbor M31. We can see the faint impression of M31 along the right side of the image, but this is just a small portion of a much larger galaxy. M32 has a linear diameter of only 8,00 light years across while M31 has a linear diameter of over 250,000 light years. Look closely at the small portion of M31 and you can see dark striations. These dark spots are not an absence of stars but are rather dust lanes covering up the stars.

Most elliptical galaxies are comprised of many old stars and M32 is no exception. But in addition to many old stars, the color composition of M32 shows that there is a large number of younger stars (2 to 3 billion years old) scattered throughout the galaxy.

Elliptical galaxies are classified by their shape. The designation "E" is given for an ellipse and each ellipse is then given a number ranging from zero to seven. Zero is given to an ellipse that looks almost circular while seven is given to an ellipse that is stretched out. M32 is a type E2 because, as you can see, it is nearly circular.

Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "Messier 32 ." Messier Object Index.

Fix, John D. Astronomy: Journey To The Cosmic Frontier. 4th ed. New York: McGraw hill, 2006.

Right Ascension (J2000) 00:42:41.80
Declination (J2000) +40:51:55
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R)
Exposure time per filter 120 seconds in B, 600 seconds in RV
Date observed

October 19, 2006 (BVR)