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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2006

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M66 - Spiral Galaxy, Justin Sterenberg

M66 - Spiral Galaxy

M66

M66 is a spiral galaxy found in what is called the "Leo Triplet" or the "M66 Group." M66, M65, and NCG 3628 make up the Leo Triplet. It was discovered in 1780 by Charles Messier. According to Wikipedia online encyclopedia, a spiral galaxy is characterized by a variety of characteristics. One of those characteristics is "a considerable total angular momentum." Spiral galaxies are also compose of a "central bulge" surrounded by a "disk." Another attribute that spiral galaxies have is that the "bulge" resembles an "elliptical galaxy." According to my estimated calculations, M66 is approximately 51,000 light years in size.

The first thing you may notice about the image is the absence of color. Despite using sophisticated star imaging software, the red light image of M66 overshadowed all the other colors. Therefore, the pictures above is shown only using the blue filter (top) and green filter (bottom). There are some distinctive differences in the details revealed in the images made with these different colors of light. In the picture above you can clearly see the "ellipse" that M66 is. According to my research (see below) this ellipse is caused by distortion from it's neighbors; M65 and NCG 3628. These objects are in essence "pulling" at M66 and pulling the disk from the central bulge. Also notice the bright white spot in the middle of the object, this is the "central bulge." The hazy white surrounding the "central bulge" in the image above therefore is the "disk."

References:

Arizona - Messier

Wikipedia - M66

Wikipedia - Spiral Galaxy

Right Ascension (J2000) 11:20:35
Declination (J2000) +12'57'37"
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

March 30, 2006 (C)
April 15, 2006 (BVR)