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Wildrik Botjes Planetarium
Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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M74 Spiral Galaxy (NGC 628), Elise Abbott


M74 is a spiral galaxy seen face on, because the center spiral structure is seen conspicuously. A spiral galaxy consists of "flat, rotating disks or stars, gas and dust and a central concentration of stars" which we know as the bulge. We see the spiral image because it is a density wave that travels in a spiral pattern rotating around the galaxy core. This galaxy is located within the Pisces constellation. The distance to M74 is approximately 30 to 40 million light years away. M74 is a chief component of a small physical group of galaxies. This galaxy was discovered in September of 1780 by a man by the name of Pierre Mechain. It is one of the fourteen "spiral or curvilinear nebulae" discovered before 1850.

The spiral arms are approximately 1000 light years broad. M74's spiral arms are blue due to the formation of new stars. The yellow color we find at the center or the nucleus is caused by the cluster of older stars. This galaxy can easiest be found from Hamal; from this star, follow a line via Beta Arietis to Eta Piscium and M74 is about 1/2 degree north and 1 1/2 degree east of Eta Psc. The angular size of M74 is between 28000 and 37300 light years.

"Messier 74" ,<http://seds.org/messier/m/m074.html>.

"Spiral Galaxy," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 01:36:42
Declination (J2000) +15:47:11
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in BVRC
Date observed

October 19, 2007 (BVRC)