Elliptical galaxy M60 and spiral companion NGC 4647

The bright elliptical galaxy Messier 60 (NGC 4649) in the Virgo cluster and its apparent spiral companion NGC 4647, shown in a color-composite view from exposures in B (blue) and I (near-infrared) filters with a Tektronix 800x800 CCD at the 2.1-meter telescope of Kitt Peak National Observatory. North is at the top and east to the left, for direct comparison with a chart or eyepiece view. The image has been rebinned to 512x512 for this presentation, which uses a logarithmic intensity transformation to preserve information across a wide dynamic range. The field is 2.5 arcminutes square.

This image was taken as part of a study of the dust content of spiral galaxies, by Bill Keel and Ray White III. If the spiral is in front, there's virtually no dust outside the optical bounds of the galaxy. In the elliptical, numerous globular clusters are apparent as the faint starlike objects around it, especially toward the spiral where the extra light gives their visibility a boost. The blue filter emphasizes the very different textures of spiral and elliptical systems, highlighting the young star clusters throughout the loose arms of NGC 4647.

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Last changes: 5/2001      © 2001