This is a nearby spiral galaxy, dramatically dimmed and reddened by
dust in the outer disk of the
Milky Way; only about 1 per cent of the galaxy's blue light reaches us.
Maffei 2 is a very interesting object for study in the infrared
and radio regimes, which show it to be a barred spiral galaxy with a
nuclear burst of star formation (one of the nearest examples of this
One of two such galaxies
discovered by Paolo Maffei, this is within one degree of the
galactic plane in Cassiopeia. Maffei 2 and the giant elliptical galaxy
Maffei 1 are so close to us 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.
For comparison, below I show a near-infrared (I band, not what the
cryogenic types would call real infrared)
CCD image of the inner 9-arcminute region of Maffei 2, with a
monochrome intensity mapping.
This wavelength starts to show hints of spiral
structure and perhaps a bar, features borne out by recent images farther
into the infrared. The image was taken with the Lowell Observatory 1.1-meter
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