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Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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M77, Spiral Galaxy, Leesha Shantz

Spiral galaxies make up well over half of the observed galaxies. Spiral galaxies are made up of dust and gas observed to be in a spiral shape. The motion of the density wave of concentrated stars creates a spiraled appearance. Stars continually move in and out of the spiraled arms creating multiple consistently illuminated arms. There is typically a large bright bulge in the center of spiral galaxies much like the brightness observed in the photograph above. They are classified by how tightly wound their arms are and by whether or not they are what are called "barred" galaxies. This particular spiral galaxy was discovered in 1780 by Pierre Méchain. He originally thought it was a nebulae and it wasn't until the 20th Century that this mistake was corrected.

There is a high concentration of gases surrounding the inner parts of this particular galaxy and the fringes of the galaxy extend out very far. The core of this galaxy is a highly concentrated bright spot. This bright spot is caused by a very large density of stars at the core. The galaxy is about 43,060 light years measured across the diameter of the brightest part of the galaxy. M77 is one of the largest observed galaxies to date. The spiral arms of the galaxy have a bluish tinted appearance. This is logical since stars are continually forming and being joined with the spiraled arms of the galaxy, and newly formed stars tend to have a blue coloration.


University of Chicago Library. Sloan Digital Sky Survey. "Spiral Galaxies." <http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/galaxies/spiral.html>.

Jay M. Pasachoff . "Spiral Galaxies." The Galaxies. <http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/galaxies/spiral.html>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 02:42:42
Declination (J2000) -00:01:00
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

November 7, 2009 (BVRC)