Maffei 1

If it were not for the intervening dust in the outer disk of the Milky Way, this would be among the brightest galaxies in the sky. The dim reddish glow from the central regions of Maffei 1, a large elliptical galaxy only about 5 megaparsecs way, is all that remains of the galaxy's light after traversing the clouds of our own galaxy. One of two such galaxies discovered by Paolo Maffei, this is found only one degree from the galactic plane in Cassiopeia. Maffei 1 and the neighboring spiral Maffei 2 are so close that some workers, such as Gene Byrd and collaborators, have calculated that these galaxies' gravitational influence might have been significant in the early history of our own Local Group galaxies. This color composite is from images taken in blue, yellow-green, and near-infrared (BVI) filters, using a CCD at the 61-cm Burrell Schmidt telescope on Kitt Peak, by Ron Buta and Marshall McCall. The colors were balanced so that an unreddened A0 star would appear white, with a logarithmic intensity mapping to compress the dynamic range for display. The image covers an area about 0.30 degrees on a side, with north at the top. A few bright stars show charge-bleeding trails, a saturation effect often encountered with CCDs. To the northeast of Maffei 1 is a small foreground reflection nebula, whose unusual greenish hue results from a combination of its blue intrinsic color and the reddening from intervening dust in the outer arms of the MIlky Way.

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