Messier 96 is a spiral galaxy. A galaxy is a large collection of stars held together by mutual gravitation and are separated from similar systems. M96 is found in the constellation Leo. The constellation Leo includes many other galaxies, both larger and smaller galaxies as well as fainter galaxies. M96 is the brightest of the galaxies in Leo and it is about the size of our own Milky Way. It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781. An interesting fact about Messier 96 is that it was one of the first spiral galaxies to be found.
Galaxies are characterized by a bright inner core. The bright core is a yellow area of old stars. There are other smaller galaxies that can be seen in the photo. They are noticeably different than the stars because they too have a bright core and fuzzy extension. Dust lanes swirl around the core of M96. The dark streaks near the center of the galaxy are paths of dust that are blocking the light. The blue dots are clusters of younger, hotter, stars. The distance to this object is estimated to be 38 million light years (seds.org). We find a maximum angular size of 4.5 arcminutes, which corresponds to a linear size of 24,400 light years.
Nemiroff, Robert and Jerry Bonnell. "Messier 96." Astronomy Picture of the Day. 2007 June 15. Web. Accessed 12 Apr. 2011. <http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap070615.html>.
"Messier 96." seds.org. Web. 12 Apr. 2011. <http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m096.html>.
|Right Ascension (J2000)||10:46:45.2|
|Filters used||B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)|
|Exposure time per filter||B, V, R, and C (60s x 5)|
|Date observed||March 22, 2011 UT|