Best of AOP - Galaxies


M77 is a tremendous galaxy in the constellation of Cetus. It is over 170,000 light years across (the largest Messier galaxy) and over 49 million light years away. In this image you can see the very bright center and if you dim the lights in the room you can just make out the very dim outer arms. M77 is also remarkable because its central region emits copious amounts of energy. It is believed that the only source that could generate this amount of energy is a supermassive blackhole (as if a run-of-the-mill blackhole wasn't enough). In fact, the entire nucleus of this galaxy changes in brightness in a period of less than a week!. An energetic galaxy such as this falls into a special category called Seyfert galaxies (named after the discoverer Carl Seyfert). The galaxy is also a very strong radio source (for the reasons above). There have been more astronomical papers written about this galaxy than any others!

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Last Updated: 20-Feb-2014

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About This Image

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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.

This galaxy is an exceedingly difficult object since it has both very bright features in the center and VERY dim

outer spiral arms. Special non-linear stretches (to the entire image) were utilized to emphasize the dim outer arms.

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.

The AO unit was used to for this session.

Luminance = 90 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 23 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 23 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 23 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: Francois and Shelley Pelletier/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF