M81 and M81
M81 and M82 in Ursa Major
On the left, beautiful spiral galaxy M81 lies in the northern constellation Ursa Major. One of the brightest galaxies in the northern sky, M81, Bode's Galaxy, is also home to the second brightest supernova seen in modern times. This view reveals M81's bright yellow nucleus, blue spiral arms, and sweeping cosmic dust lanes with a scale comparable to the Milky Way. Hinting at a disorderly past, a remarkable dust lane actually runs straight through the disk, below and right of the galactic center, contrary to M81's other prominent spiral features. The errant dust lane may be the lingering result of a close encounter between M81 and its smaller companion galaxy on the right, M82. Scrutiny of variable stars in M81 (aka NGC 3031) has yielded one of the best determined distances for an external galaxy -- 11.8 million light-years.
On the right is the Cigar Galaxy M82, an irregular galaxy stirred up by a recent pass near the larger spiral galaxy M81. This doesn't fully explain the source of the red-glowing outwardly expanding gas you can see on both sides, however. Recent evidence indicates that this gas is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic "superwind." These red filaments extend for over 10,000 light years. The 12-million light-year distant Cigar Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared light.
Orion Optics UK AG16 Astrograph: SBIG 11000 CM: Titan Mount
18 x 10 minutes (3hrs total)
Data capture 24th January 2015
M81andM82W152015Bodes GalaxyCigar Galaxy