Thursday, April 12, 2007

M65 & M66, Galaxies in Leo

Spring is here, so it's galaxy season! Here's 2 of the Leo Triplet, M65 & M66 (that's M66 on the left).



Info from SEDS.org:

M65, together with its neighbors M66 and NGC 3628, forms a most conspicuous triplet of galaxies, the Leo Triplett or M66 group, located at a distance of about 35 million light years.

Although it is close to and thus under the gravitational influence of its neighbors, M65 looks like a very "normal" Sa type spiral and seems to have felt little influence. It has a prominent central lense and tightly wound spiral arms, plus a prominent dust lane marking the facing edge. The luminous disk is dominated by a smooth old stellar population. Near the lane, some knots are visible, which, according to J.D. Wray, may be associated with star forming regions. The lane may hide regions of star formation usually associated with such features in spiral galaxies

M66 is considerably larger than its neighbor, M65, and has a well developed but not well defined central bulge, and is therefore classified Sb. Obviously its spiral arms are deformed, probably because of the encounters with its neighbors. They seem to be distorted and displaced above the plane of the galaxy. Note how one of the spiral arms seems to pass over the left side of the central bulge. Much dust is visible here, as well as a few pink nebulae, signs of star formation, near the end of one of the arms.


Canon EOS 350D, 10" LX200 @ f/6.3, 20 x 90 seconds, ISO 1600

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