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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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M77 Spiral Galaxy (NGC 1068), Luke VandeBunte

Helix Nebula

This is a picture of the spiral galaxy M77.  This picture of the galaxy was taken on October 19, 2007.  M77 was one of the first recognizable spiral galaxies, as it was described in 1850 as a “spiral nebulae” by Lord Rosse.  It is one of the largest galaxies in the Messier catalog, with its brightest part measured to be about 120,000 light years across and its faint spirals going out to be about 170,000 light years!  A spiral galaxy is simply a flattened, rotating galaxy with pinwheel-like spiral arms winding outward from the galaxy’s nuclear bulge.  The arms that you see coming from M77 are lanes of interstellar gas, dust, and young stars that wind outward from the central region of the galaxy. 

As we can see by the picture of M77, most of the galaxy is yellow with a little bit of blue on the spiral arms extending from the central galaxy.  These blue stars are much hotter than yellow and are also younger, which makes the arms a younger and hotter part of the galaxy.  In the spectrum of the galaxy, there are peculiar features in the form of broad emission lines.  These broad emission lines indicate that giant gas clouds are rapidly moving out of this galaxy's core, at several 100 km/sec.  This galaxy is the nearest and brightest representative of this class of active galaxies.  It is only 60,000 light years away from earth and has a linear size of 333.26 degrees. The galaxy is M77 is estimated to have an inner disk mass of about 27 billion solar masses, while having a total mass of about 1 trillion solar masses! 


Fraknoi, Andrew , David Morrison, and Sidney Wolff. Voyages through the Universe. 3rd ed. Canada: Thomson Learning, 2004.

"Messier 77." 2 Sep. 2007. SEDS. 13 Nov. 2007


Right Ascension (J2000) 02:42:40.2
Declination (J2000) -0:00:48
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in C, 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

October 19, 2007