Best of AOP - Galaxies

M64 (The Black Eye Galaxy)

The Black Eye Galaxy in Coma Berenices was discovered by Bode in April 1779. M64 is famous for its conspicuous dark structure which is a prominent dust feature obscuring the stars behind. The main spiral pattern contains a middle aged stellar population. This dust feature is easily visible with a small telescope.

M64 was recently shown to have two counter-rotating systems of stars and gas in its disk: The inner part is about 6,000 light years across and is rubbing along the inner edge of the outer disk, which rotates opposite and extends up to at least 40,000 light years. The fascinating internal motions of M64 are thought to be the result of a collision between a small galaxy and a large galaxy - where the resultant mix has not yet settled down.

The peculiar dust lane on one side of the nucleus (also a site of star formation, as shown by the blue knots imbedded in it) may be caused by material from a former companion which has been accreted but has yet to settle into the mean orbital plane of the disk.

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Last Updated: 20-Feb-2014

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About This Image

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Equipment

20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.1

Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

LRGB color production was used to create this image.

Two iterations of L-R deconvolution (sharpening) algorithm using CCDsharp were applied to the luminance image.

Digital Development (DDP) via Maxim/DL was also used in order to display the very dim and very bright details of

the image simultaneously.

Luminance = 70 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: Brandon Chadwell/Flynn Haase/NOAO/AURA/NSF