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Physics & Astronomy Department

Astr112 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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M77 (NGC 1068), Kathryn Hendrickson

M74

Discovered in 1780 by Pierre Méchain, M77 is a spiral galaxy. A galaxy is a large group of stars held together by gravity. A distinctive feature of spiral galaxies are the spiral arms. Spiral arms are areas of greater density. When interstellar matter enters the region, it slows down and compresses, beginning the formation of new stars. This spiral galaxy is located in the Cetus constellation. Originally misclassified as a nebula, M77 is one of the largest galaxies included in the Messier catalogue, a galaxy larger than the Milky Way. At the core of M77, there is thought to be a hidden, massive black hole which is the source of a large amount of x-rays.

This image was taken at visible wavelengths, so it is not possible to see the x-rays. However, in this image, it is possible to see the bulge and spiral arms distinctly within the disc. This gives a good, general overview of the galactic structure. It is also possible to see the brightness of M77 relative to the stars in our galaxy. The linear size of M77 is approximately 70,000 light years across.

 

References:
Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "M77." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
http://seds.org/messier/m/m077.html

Freedman, Roger A and Kaufmann, William J III
Stars and Galaxies: Third Edition

Bonnell, Jerry and Nemiroff, Robert. "NGC 1068 and the X-Ray Flashlight" Astronomy Picture of the Day
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap030711.html

Bonnell, Jerry and Nemiroff, Robert. "M77: Spiral with a Strange Glow" Astronomy Picture of the Day Dayhttp://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap960910.html

Right Ascension (J2000) 02:42:42
Declination (J2000) -00:01:00
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 10x120 seconds in C
Date observed

October 19, 2007 (C)