©2006 Richard Murray
These two images are of M82 the 'Cigar Galaxy', or better known today as the 'Starburst Galaxy', which is an edge on irregular galaxy located in the northwestern sky this time of year. It's just slightly above and to the right of the Big Dipper. I took these on 6/14/04 with my 8" scope and a modified Toucam webcam. The picture on the bottom is the original image. The image on the top was rotated and reworked to get a better look at the dark dust lane of gases that split the galaxy in two. These dark lanes were carved out when M82 collided with its sister galaxy M81, a spiral, in the semi-recent past about 600 million years ago. M82 is about 12 million light years distant. M82's core suffered dramatically from its collision and today is going through a heavy formation of new stars, turbulent explosive gas flow, and as discovered recently by the Hubble Space Telescope, the formation of 100 new globular clusters (very bright, compact groupings of about 100,000 stars) .
Quote: "NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has imaged the core of the nearest starburst galaxy, Messier 82 (M82). The observatory has revealed a seething cauldron of exploding stars, neutron stars, black holes, 100 million degree gas, and a powerful galactic wind." Chandra X-ray Observatory press release on January 14, 2000.
Here are a couple of links for more information about M82:
*See the Archives on the left for more astrophotos*