Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sprial galaxy: Hidden depths of Messier 77 revealed

Date:
March 28, 2013
Source:
ESA/Hubble Information Centre
Summary:
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this vivid image of spiral galaxy Messier 77, one of the most famous and well-studied galaxies in the sky. The patches of red across this image highlight pockets of star formation along the pinwheeling arms, with dark dust lanes stretching across the galaxy's energetic center.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured this vivid image of spiral galaxy Messier 77 -- a galaxy in the constellation of Cetus, some 45 million light-years away from us. The streaks of red and blue in the image highlight pockets of star formation along the pinwheeling arms, with dark dust lanes stretching across the galaxy's starry center. The galaxy belongs to a class of galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies, which have highly ionized gas surrounding an intensely active center.
Credit: NASA, ESA and A. van der Hoeven

Messier 77 is a galaxy in the constellation of Cetus, some 45 million light-years away from us. Also known as NGC 1068, it is one of the most famous and well-studied galaxies. It is a real star among galaxies, with more papers written about it than many other galaxies put together.

Related Articles


Despite its current fame and striking swirling appearance, the galaxy has been a victim of mistaken identity a couple of times; when it was initially discovered in 1780, the distinction between gas clouds and galaxies was not known, causing finder Pierre Mechain to miss its true nature and label it as a nebula. It was misclassified again when it was subsequently listed in the Messier Catalogue as a star cluster.

Now, however, it is firmly categorised as a barred spiral galaxy, with loosely wound arms and a relatively small central bulge. It is the closest and brightest example of a particular class of galaxies known as Seyfert galaxies -- galaxies that are full of hot, highly ionised gas that glows brightly, emitting intense radiation.

Strong radiation like this is known to come from the heart of Messier 77 -- caused by a very active black hole that is around 15 million times the mass of our Sun. Material is dragged towards this black hole and circles around it, heating up and glowing strongly. This region of a galaxy alone, although comparatively small, can be tens of thousands of times brighter than a typical galaxy.

Although no competition for the intense centre, Messier 77's spiral arms are also very bright regions. Dotted along each arm are knotty red clumps -- a signal that new stars are forming. These baby stars shine strongly, ionising nearby gas which then glows a deep red colour as seen in the image above. The dust lanes stretching across this image appear as a rusty, brown-red colour due to a phenomenon known as reddening; the dust absorbs more blue light than red light, enhancing its apparent redness.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ESA/Hubble Information Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

ESA/Hubble Information Centre. "Sprial galaxy: Hidden depths of Messier 77 revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328125104.htm>.
ESA/Hubble Information Centre. (2013, March 28). Sprial galaxy: Hidden depths of Messier 77 revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328125104.htm
ESA/Hubble Information Centre. "Sprial galaxy: Hidden depths of Messier 77 revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328125104.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) Scientists are saying they&apos;ve spotted a black hole 12 billion time bigger than the sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Spots Two Bright Points On Ceres

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Spots Two Bright Points On Ceres

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) NASA scientists still don&apos;t have a clear picture of the bright spots showing up on the surface of Ceres, a minor planet in the asteroid belt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Astronauts Rig Station for New U.S. Space Taxis

Astronauts Rig Station for New U.S. Space Taxis

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) U.S. astronauts float outside the International Space Station to rig parking spots for two commercial space taxis. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Leaks Into Astronaut's Helmet

Water Leaks Into Astronaut's Helmet

Reuters - US Online Video (Feb. 25, 2015) A dramatic finish to a spacewalk as NASA astronaut Terry Virts&apos; helmet pools with water. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins