Arp Galaxy 337

Finally -- a galaxy in Arp's list that is actually bright and easy to see -- but still it meets Arp's criteria that it is a "peculiar" galaxy.

NGC 3034 is bright enough to be in Charles Messier's catalog as M82. It is often referred to as the "Cigar Galaxy" and it certainly appears to deserve its name.

M81 and its neighbor M82 form a striking pair in the small telescope. M82 is being physically affected by its bigger neighbor. Tidal forces caused by gravity have deformed th eM81 galaxy, a process that started roughly 100 million years ago. This interaction has caused star formation to increase 10 fold compared to "normal" galaxies. At present the centers of M81 and M82 are about 150,000 light-years apart.

Here is a photo I took of M81 a few years ago.

M82 is the type example of an Irr-II -- Irregular galaxy type II, meaning the disk is irregular. Recent studies, however, suggest that it may actually be a barred spiral galaxy seen edge on from earth.

Of course, as good as I think I did, NASA did better with the Hubble Space Telescope!

Observation notes:
2006 September 16, 23 hours 02 minutes local time.
Sky -- excellent. 4 out of 5. Dark sky.
5 minute exposure on 3 megapixel CCD.
14 inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope with 3910mm focal length.

No comments: