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Black Eye Galaxy (M64)
Zachary Bruce

M64

Messier 64 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. It is nicknamed the Black Eye Galaxy because of its prominent dust feature near the center. It was discovered on March 23, 1779 by Edward Pigott, while the dark dust feature was discovered by William Herschel who observed M64 twice in 1785 and 1789. About 77% of all galaxies are spiral galaxies. Their most prominent features are arms that spiral out from the center of the galaxy. Spiral Galaxies themselves are classified even further depending on how tightly their arms are wound. Galaxies that have the tightest arms are called Sa spiral galaxies. The Black Eye Galaxy is a Sb galaxy, meaning its arms are less tight. What is extraordinary about this object is that the gas and dust in the outer portion of the galaxy is rotating in the opposite direction than the gas and dust in the inner portion. This was believed to be caused when M64 collided with one of its satellite galaxies.

Many aspects of the image above are interesting. The first thing to notice is the prominent dust feature just above the bright core of the galaxy. This dust fully surrounds the core and absorbs much of the light that is emitted by the stars. The image shows only the portion of the dust that is above the core of the galaxy. This is because, from our perspective, this area of gas is illuminated by core. On the other hand, the light is hitting the portion of the gas that is below the core on the side we cannot see, and is getting absorbed. You can also see pink within and surrounding the dust. The presence of hydrogen gas is the cause of this. One can also see the spiral arms extending from the core of the galaxy. The final feature that should be noted is the very bright core at the center of the galaxy. This area is extremely dense with stars, and is saturated even when looked at with the best telescopes.

References:

"Messier 64". <http://messier.seds.org/m/m064.html>

"Spiral Galaxies". <http://cas.sdss.org/dr6/en/proj/basic/galaxies/spirals.asp>

"Messier 64: Black Eye Galaxy". <http://www.messier-objects.com/messier-64-black-eye-galaxy/>

 

Right Ascension (J2000) 12:56:44 (h:m:s)
Declination (J2000) +21:40:59 (d:m:s)
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure x number of images for each filter R, and V (90s x 8), and B and C (90s x 7)
Image dimension 545x393 pixels; 11.9x8.58 arcminutes
Date/time observed March 17, 2016 8:19 UT
Distance 24 million ly
Scale 1.31arcseconds/pixel

 

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