Starburst Galaxy M82


The nearby interacting starburst galaxy Messier 82 (NGC 3034), in a slightly odd color-composite CCD image. Here, the red filter was a narrow-band one that passed H-alpha emission from the galaxy, highlighting the outflow of ionized gas driven by the starburst which has raged through much of M82 but most strongly in the central regions. More detail of the dust in M82's disk is shown in a slower-contrast image highlighting the inner regions:

and in this monochrome rendering of the narrowband image including H-alpha:

Here we can see some of the dust which keeps us from seeing the very nucleus in visible light (though it's quite exciting when seen in the deep infrared or radio bands). M82 is interacting with M81, with a huge connecting envelope of neutral hydrogen; this interaction, with NGC 3077 as a co-cospirator, is also very likely responsible for triggering the beautiful grand-design spiral pattern that makes M81 such a favorite.

These images were taken using the 1.1-meter Hall telescope at Lowell Observatory, with an 800x800 TI CCD.


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