S0 galaxy NGC 5866


The edge-on S0 galaxy NGC 5866 (M102) in Draco, from a 10-minute red-light exposure with a Tektronix 2048x2048 CCD at the 2.1-meter telescope of Kitt Peak National Observatory by Bill Keel and Lisa Frattare. North is at the top and east to the left, for direct comparison with a chart or eyepiece view. The image has been block-averaged by a factor of two as shown above (click for the full-sized image), in which which uses a logarithmic intensity transformation to preserve information across a wide dynamic range. The field is 4.6 arcminutes square.

Ths image shows the central buldge almost perfectly bisected by the dust lane from our vantage point. Many S0 galaxies have such dust in their disks, although it forms more of an annulus than the radially extensive distributions in spiral galaxies. In this case, the dust is slightly warped from the disk starlight, which happens when there is a three-dimensional warp to the disk. This may indicate that NGC 5866 underwent a tiodal disturbance in the distant past. What is harder to see, even in this logarithmic display, is that the faint halo light of NGC 5866 fills the entire frame.

If you point a telescope here, don't miss the edge-on spiral NGC 5907 only a few degrees away. Under suburban skies, I find these both to be more visually rewarding than the brighter M101 in this neighborhood.


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