M96, Abby Zylstra
M96, also known as the Spiral Galaxy, was discovered by Pierre Mechain on
March 20, 1781. He also discovered M95 at the same time. M96 is part
of the Leo group of galaxies and the brightest one of the group. This
Spiral Galaxy was one of the first spirals to be discovered.
The center region looks like a flat white disk with yellowish bulges at
the center and is made up of a smooth yellow accumulation of
old stars that ends just past a ring of blue knots,
probably clusters of young hot stars. The disks are filled with cool
gas and dust interspersed with hotter ionized gas. The brightest
center region is about six arc minutes or 66,000 light years in diameter. The ring of dust around it is at least nine arc minutes, or 100,000
light years across.
Seventy-five to eight-five percent of galaxies are spiral or lenticular. Spiral galaxies are mostly found in loose collections of several
galaxies or groups that extend over a few light years. Leo I is a dwarf
elliptical galaxy in the local group. It's about 2,500 light years in diameter.
The linear size of the Spiral Galaxy is about 34,000 light years. It's
approximately six by four arcminutes and about 38,000,000 light years
away from Earth.
Messier Object M96
Bennett, Jeffrey , Megan Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, and Mark Voit. The
Cosmic Perspective. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Pearson Education,
Inc./Addison Wesley, 2004.
red(R), and clear(C)
60 seconds each
March 9, 2005